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Salvation of 

the Nations 

266 Dibs 


The salvation of nations 

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CV "4 

:C 15 

3 1t 






Angdine Bouchard 







First paperback edition 
Copyright 1962 by 

University of Notre Dame Press 

Reprinted under license arrangement with Sheed and Ward, Ltd., London. 
First published 1949 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

c , . . <jui diligunt adventum eius." 
2 Timothy, IV. 8. 


THIS little book is not written from the standpoint of 
concrete missionary activity, which grows out of various 
movements dedicated to that end. Nor is it written from 
the standpoint of the spirituality of Catholic Action, which 
is a somewhat different approach. Yet it answers the need 
for a genuinely missionary spirituality, as expressed in 
Christ's prayer for the peoples still shut out from the 
Gospel. Thus it brings both a broadening and a deepening 
of the missionary perspective. 

A broadening, first of all, by answering the need for an 
extension of our prayer to the entire universe, even though 
the scope of our apostolate be restricted to our immediate 
milieu, by virtue of the infinite efficacy of desire of which 
Catherine of Siena speaks. A deepening as well, by 
teaching us to live the missionary life within ourselves, like 
a hidden mystery. 

This approach to missionary spirituality may be expressed 
by the word mystery. The mission is this mystery, this 
secret hidden within God even before the creation of the 
world, that all nations may be gathered in the unity of the 
Mystical Body. This mystery is unfolded according to a 
divine plan ; prepared by the vocation of the Jewish people, 
substantially realized by the mission of the Word, Who 
by His admirable Ascension introduced human nature for 
all eternity into the sphere of life of the Trinity ; and this 
plan is to be accomplished among the various peoples of 
the world, one after another, during the time between 
Pentecost and the Second Coming. 



Yet, just as Christ has already fulfilled within Himself 
and prefigured the salvation of the whole human race, like- 
wise we can, In our turn, invisibly accomplish, prefigure 
and prepare universal salvation by assuming inwardly, 
through prayer, the peoples that are still strangers to the 
Gospel, so that there may even now exist, though hidden, 
this mystery of perfect praise that will be manifested at the 
end of time. 

The understanding of this mystery is the sole and proper 
object of this collection of essays. We shall entreat the 
Virgin Mary to gather us into the centre of the soul, the 
centre of the world, where Christ's prayer accomplishes 
its work of unity. 



FOREWORD ...... Vii 











THE missionary question may seem to have been pushed 
into the background at the present time, in view of the 
urgency of other problems. The spiritual and temporal 
revival of the West appears to be a task of such vast Import- 
ance and exigency as to consume all our efforts. I should 
like to show, however, that in certain fundamental aspects, 
missionary spirituality is the answer to some of the gravest 
problems of our day. 

Let us make two things clear at the outset. First, that 
missionary spirituality is Christian spirituality, envisaged In 
all its amplitude ; it is Christianity lived on a cosmic scale 
to use a word much in vogue at present, and particularly 
apt in this case. Christianity can, of course, be lived within 
the narrow limits of the community of which we are a 
part, whether it be our family or our country. To view 
Christianity in this light is not to see it in its true per- 

Christianity is catholic by definition, that is, it embraces 
the world. A Christian spirituality that is not funda- 
mentally oriented toward the building up of the total 
Mystical Body is not a catholic spirituality. Some Christians 
develop an inferiority complex in the presence of other 
movements (particularly Communism) because they have a 
feeling that others possess a greater breadth of vision than 
they. This is because their own conception of Christianity 
is too circumscribed. 


Many of us accept as entirely normal that Catholicism 
is the religion of France, Italy, Spain and South America, 
but we also seem to take it as normal that it is not the 
religion of India or China. Thus, we cling to the notion 
that Catholicism is the religion of a certain number of 
countries. This greatly diminishes our effectiveness. 
Catholicism must embrace the entire world; in our prayer 
and in the orientation of our interests, we must live on a 
world scale* If we do that, Christianity will truly be the 
fresh breathable air that it was destined to be. 

There is a second reason why the missionary problem is 
most urgent. Let us not imagine that missions consist only 
in making contact in distant lands with civilizations that 
are different from our own. The missionary problem is at 
our very door. I arn not speaking of the missionary 
problem in its broadest sense, as one might speak of France 
the land of missions, or say that our first duty is to convert 
the pagans in our own country. I am speaking of the 
missionary problem in its exact sense, that is, the problem 
of evangelizing the pagans. This problem is at our very 
door, in our very midst, and it has two aspects : 

1 . It is no longer necessary to go to India or China to 
seek out these civilizations. They are flowing back towards 
us. I am referring here particularly to Buddhism and 
Hinduism. There is no need whatever to go to India or 
Tibet to be in contact with these religions. Many 
Western minds are preoccupied with them, in some cases 
intensely so. I shall return to this matter later. Suffice 
it now to say that this is one of the points to be considered. 

2. Inversely, if we do go to India or China, let us not 
suppose that problems there are any different from those 
we face at home. Communism is truly a world problem, 
and, for a country like China, it is fully as important as 
Buddhism. China, and a fortiori Russia, no longer present 


solely the problems of the Orthodox Church and of 
Buddhism . They both present the problem of Communism . 

Thus we see how barriers disappear in the world in 
which we live. We find ourselves In the presence not 
of geographically separated civilizations so much as of a 
number of universal movements which encompass the 
entire world. Today the world is faced with a conflict 
between a few great spiritual movements, each professing 
to offer the one and only cure for a sick humanity. 

Chief among these great movements are Communism ; 
Islam ; Buddhism and all that comes within its sphere ; and 
Christianity. Therefore, missionary problems are no longer 
a matter of remote civilizations, very different from our 
own. They are a matter, first, of what is vital for the 
human beings of today. It is our duty to live in harmony 
with the realities of our age. 

I should like to develop this last point by showing that 
there are two grave problems which often confront us, 
and on which there is direct missionary bearing. 

The first is syncretism. Syncretism, as you know, con- 
ceives of a universal religion that is to transcend 
all particular religions. It holds that these latter each 
possess a part of the truth Hinduism no less than Islam, 
Judaism, Catholicism, or Protestantism. Its task, as it sees 
it, would consist in dissolving oppositions by rising above 
them to a superior religion which would embrace all the 
others. Every soul that would weigh the value of its 
Catholicism must face this problem, and ask itself: Why am 
I a Catholic rather than a Buddhist or a Moslem? It will 
not suffice to answer: Because I was born a Catholic. That 
is a wholly unsatisfactory answer. That is tantamount to 
saying: Had I been born elsewhere, I should have been of 
another faith. That is to place all religions on the same 


The second problem confronting us is one of civilization 
rather than of spirituality. It is the problem of the unity 
of human civilization. Until the present time Christianity 
has been the source of unity in Western civilization and in 
human civilization as a whole. But is Christianity still 
capable of assuring unity to civilization? The Communists, 
for Instance, say: s *ilp until now Christianity has fulfilled 
a certain function. It has succeeded in bringing about 
human unity, but we think It can no longer do this, that 
It Is an ageing and outworn notion. We consider ourselves 
Christianity's heirs, retaining all that seems to us good in 
It, and yet surpassing it.** 

Let us investigate the first question, that of syncretism. 
There are many souls today that have a deep-seated need 
for spirituality, but admittedly have found no satisfaction 
In the Catholicism which has been offered them. Whence 
the notion, arising in some minds, of seeking a new spiritu- 
ality that will correspond more closely to the needs of the 
soul. Now, where is such a spirituality to be found? 
Many are tempted to seek It in the Orient, and especially 
in the religions of India. We are confronted by a real trend 
affecting some of the most vital people, that is, the people 
who aspire to a spiritual life a trend that would turn 
them away from Catholicism and toward Hinduism and its 
spiritual methods. 

Everyone has read Lanza del Vasto's book, Tehnnage aux 
Sources, 1 It is the story of a European who withdrew 
from our present-day restless, mechanistic, materialistic 
Western civilization, and went to India in search of new 
spiritual vitality. One of the great differences between 
the Western and the Oriental worlds is that in the West 
spirituality shows itself less ; it is absent from the public 

1 Paris, Denod, 1943. 407 pp. 


places; It is not to be encountered in the street. In 
the streets of the West there is only agitation, dispersion. 
But when you go to India , you are struck by the fact that, 
there, spirituality abounds in the street. In India the 
hierarchy of values places wisdom above science , and 
immeasurably above conquest. In consequence, the atmo- 
sphere there is much more spiritual. This does not mean 
Hindu spirituality is superior to ours, but that Hindu 
civilization is more permeated with spirituality than is 
Western civilization. 

I am reminded also of other books, such as V Experience 
Interieure by Georges Bataille, 1 which is an effort to create 
a natural spirituality independent of all dogmatism; and 
seeks to hold on to St. John of the Cross and Saint Teresa 
without believing in Christ, nor in the Blessed Trinity, 
nor in the Church. 

All this betrays an unrest which we must very definitely 
take into account. For where do these restless souls end 
up? With the idea that adherence to a particular credo is 
perhaps not indispensable to spirituality; that outside of 
and above all credos there may be a universal wisdom in 
which all men may commune, and of which Buddha, 
Mohammed, Jesus, were great pioneers, each having 
revealed one aspect of the total wisdom, but none having 
had a monopoly of absolute Truth. 

This syncretism is no present-day invention. It is as 
old as Christianity. From the very origins of Christianity 
we find there were analogous movements. The first 
heresies of the days of the Apostles, particularly Gnosticism, 
were compromises between Christianity, Judaism, and the 
pagan religions of the epoch. The Gnostics believed there 
existed, above particular religions, a higher truth to which 
initiates might rise. 

1 Paris, Gallimard, 1943. 2^2 pp. 


How much truth Is there In this movement? We must 
remember that every error has a portion of truth, without 
which It would have no efficacy whatever. Indeed, there 
Is a portion of truth in every religion. We Christians are 
the first to recognize this, inasmuch as we know that pagan 
humanity is not abandoned by God. We know that while 
paganism does not enjoy the immense benefits of Revelation 
in its search for truth, there none the less subsists in it a 
certain natural knowledge of God. Though this know- 
ledge is profoundly falsified, deformed and distorted, it 
subsists even within the coarse idol worshipped by the 
Senegalese native. 

It is also true that Christianity has been enriched by 
many external contributions during the course of its 
development. For example, when it penetrated the 
Hellenistic world, Christianity adopted certain ritual for- 
mulas which belonged to that world; and it made use of 
Greek philosophy or of Roman law as means of expressing 
its message. 

Likewise, if Christianity is to penetrate India, it will 
have to become incarnate in what is best in the civilization 
of that land. For example, Christianity will have to utilize 
India's methods of spirituality and of recollection as well 
as India's very profound sense of God. Thus, it is true that 
genuine religion must embrace within itself all the spiritual 
riches of the world. 

Finally, it is true that in this vague yearning after a truly 
vital spirituality there is a seeking that is excellent, and 
Catholicism too often fails to satisfy it at least, as it 
reaches them. We, too, should multiply our schools of 
wisdom. We, too, should teach those around us that we 
must first of all know how to discipline ourselves, how to 
set up a correct hierarchy of values, how to be recollected 
and to be inwardly silent before acting. We try to 


accomplish these things by means of retreats and days of 
recollection. But who takes part in these retreats and days 
of recollection? How great is the multitude totally 
ignorant of the blessings of the interior life ! In our world 
the interior life is a rare pearl, to which only a few souls 
have access. It must be made available to many more. It 
must become a widely scattered treasure. Then will 
Christian souls find in their religion real sustenance. 

Thus, syncretism contains elements of value. But it 
remains a caricature and a distortion of true Catholicism, 
and to accept it is to deny the very essence of Christianity, 
namely catholicity. For it amounts to placing Catholicism 
on the same level with all other religions, whereas the 
catholicity of Catholicism consists in the fact that it is the 
true religion and the religion of all men. It is a religion 
that does not exclude the riches of other forms of spiritu- 
ality, but recaptures and adopts them in order to assimilate 

Why is this? By what right can we say this? Precisely 
because Catholicism is the religion instituted by God Him- 
self. This is the answer, the sole answer, but one which is 
absolutely decisive, to all arguments for syncretism. There 
is in history a furrow made by God. This is the great proof 
of Catholicism, and is one of the most astonishing facts 
to come out of any objective study of the world. God 
intervenes in history to accomplish a certain plan. We 
first glimpse this plan when He makes the first covenant 
with Abraham and thereby founds what is to become the 
Judaeo-Christian religion. 

This decision of God's is followed by a series of new inter- 
ventions. God renews His covenant with Moses and 
reveals to him the principles of true morality in *he 
Decalogue. He renews it with the Prophets, and prepares 
the Jewish people to become the missionaries of the 


Revelation. Then ia the fulness of time, as Saint Paul says, 
the Word of God Himself, Who until then has spoken 
through the intermediary of the Prophets, becomes man 
and comes into the world. Henceforth He is the corner- 
stone of the true Church which is to be the home of all 
humanity* and into which all peoples will be, gathered. 
This Church of which Christ is Founder and Head was 
entrusted to His Apostles, so that they may build it up 
through the ages y and so that it may embrace all peoples. 

Thus, the essential difference between Catholicism and 
all other religions is that the others start with man. They 
are touching and often very beautiful attempts, rising very 
high in their search for God. But in Catholicism there is a 
contrary movement, the descent of God towards the world, 
in order to communicate His life to it. The answer to 
the aspirations of the entire universe lies in the Judaeo- 
Christian religion. The true religion, the Catholic religion, 
is composed of these two elements. It is the religion in 
which God's grace has made answer to man's cry. In other 
religions grace is not present, nor is Christ, nor is the 
gift of God. The vanity and illusion of syncretism lies 
in its belief that universality is a common denominator of 
all religions. 

Now, this is false. Veritable unity exists only in Christi- 
anity, which is the Heavenly Jerusalem descended from on 
High, like a Bride adorned for her Bridegroom. The 
Heavenly Jerusalem comes from on High, comes from God, 
and descends from the very bosom of the Trinity. The 
Church is an emanation of the Trinity as a whole. It comes 
from the love of the Father, it is accomplished through the 
Word, and its soul is the Holy Ghost. That is why it is 
divinely founded and divinely constructed. There flows 
through it an incomparable life, which is the life of God 
Himself. This, human religions cannot give. That is why 


they are infinitely poor compared to the riches of 

The second question with which we must grapple might 
be formulated : Communism and unity. The idea of attack- 
ing the problem from this angle came to me through a 
conversation with a friend. We were talking of the current 
situation. He was saying: **The real problem of the present 
is the union of the Churches." I must admit this gave me 
quite a jolt at first. Indeed, his approach was more 
Christian than mine, for I had thought the most urgent 
problem was peace and the reconstruction of devastated 
countries. In short, I was thinking of all the problems that 
concern us every day. He continued: **I think it is the 
problem of the union of the Churches, because the big 
question today is whether Christianity will be strong 
enough to re-create its unity, and in consequence to serve 
as the basis for a single civilization." Evidently, a dis- 
united, divided Christianity is powerless to re-create the 
unity of civilization. Consequently, the question is whether, 
in the face of movements like Communism, Christianity 
is strong enough, whether it still possesses enough vitality 
to become this principle of unity. 

Indeed, one of the big problems confronting us today 
is that of the unity of civilization. Men are increasingly in 
contact with one another. As a result, every occurrence 
has a cosmic, universal repercussion, and the aspiration 
toward a world society which would embrace the whole 
human race is intensified. This aspiration finds a very 
special embodiment in Communism. 

It has been truly said that Communism possesses an 
eschatology, a Messianism, a religious element. This 
eschatology, this Messianism is the myth of the classless 
society, that is, of a world in which all barriers between 


men barriers of race, nationality and class have been 
demolished. This aspiration towards a really united world, 
where there would be no more barriers of money or birth, 
and where, within a just hierarchy, there would exist a 
far more fraternal spirit, is a noble one. It is the pro- 
jection into the realm of the temporal of a spiritual reality: 
it is the laicization of the Heavenly Jerusalem. 

The fundamental strength of Communism lies in what it 
retains of Christianity. Communism offers to men the 
Christian ideal, that Is, the Ideal of the Communion of 
Saints, the Ideal of the Mystical Body, of a society in which 
all men shall be united; but at the same time and this is 
what satisfies human pride -It makes man believe that he 
himself must achieve it, and that he must not expect 
anything from God. It is to return to Babel and renounce 
Jerusalem. It Is to make man himself the creator of this 
society In which the whole human race is to be united. 

In the face of this, is our Christian claim that we can 
bring about the unity of humanity strong enough? Here 
Is the problem we have to solve. Have we not practically 
renounced this claim? And has not this setback for the 
Redemption led us to accept as a matter of course that 
there are Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox 
Christians that Is to say, that Christianity itself Is divided 
and that it is the religion only of Europe and of a part of 
America? Catholicism loses its hold on souls in the measure 
that it ceases to present as an urgent task, to be accomplished 
as soon as possible, the unity of all men within a single 

Here we are faced with two grave problems: the first 
is the division of Christianity. This is an aspect of the 
missionary problem, which is concerned not only with 
Oriental civilizations but also with the separated Christian 
lands. Are we painfully enough aware of the scandal of 


this separation? First of all, In the order of prayer* do we 
pray often enough for the reunion of our separated brothers? 
The only thing to which we aspire, if we are truly Christian, 
is the total building up of the Mystical Body, for this is God's 
work. Not a day should pass without our praying especially 
for this intention. It is distressing enough that there 
are men outside the Church. It is even more distressing 
that among those who profess to follow Christ there are 
divisions, and that for them the unity which Christ pointed 
to as the very mark of His Church * 'that they may be one, 
as we also are" does not exist. 

How will all this end? It is a great mystery. Whenever 
we touch upon this development within Christianity 
through the course of history, we constantly strike against 
mystery. We have the impression that the ways of God 
are not ours, and that He directs events in a manner that 
baffles our imagination. For one, the history of the Jewish 
people is absolutely baffling. That this people who had 
for centuries prepared the coming of Christ should have 
been rejected at the moment when Christ appeared is a 
profound mystery. Saint Paul throws some light on it in 
the Epistle to the Romans by showing that it was practically 
a necessity in order that the Gentiles might enter the 
Church in throngs. 

The problem of the unity of the Churches is equally 
mysterious. The more contact we have with our separated 
brothers, the more we enter into this mystery, into the 
domain of pure faith. One feels that here prayer alone can 
be efficacious. Some may have thought it was perhaps 
an evil thought that Communism by its persecution of the 
Orthodox Church in Russia might open the way for 
Catholicism, inasmuch as the Orthodox Church was in- 
separable from Czarism. I mention this phase of the problem 
because it matters so much now. At the time of the 


Russian Revolution the Orthodox Church was completely 
a state religion, and one might easily have surmised: to 
the extent that the old regime crumbles the Orthodox 
Church will also crumble, along with the social order into 
which it is incorporated. Now, exactly the opposite hap- 
pened. The Orthodox Church, far from crumbling with 
the temporal regime, was purified. What had weighed 
heavily upon It was precisely the fact that its priests and 
bishops tended far too much to be administrators, and to be 
too deeply enmeshed in politics. They were thrown into 
prison, they were deprived of everything, and in poverty, 
nakedness and privation they found something much 
purer and altogether in line with Orthodox Christianity. 
The result will be, I think, that in, the coming world we 
shall be confronted with an Orthodox Church mo*e 
vigorous and more active than it has been in the past because 
it will be purer and more universalist. 

Moreover, Communism, after having laboured to destroy 
the Orthodox Church as united to Czarism, is now faced 
with an Orthodox Church with far fewer temporal ties, 
one therefore which it can more easily accept. 1 This is 
particularly true since the war because Orthodox Christians 
were among the best and most devoted soldiers. It is 
evident that, because of this, Stalin's government has put 
aside many of its suspicions with respect to the men who 
served it so well. Just as it was impossible after the war 
of 1914 to expel all religious from France, because they 
had been among the best soldiers, likewise after the war of 
1 940 it is impossible for Russia to persecute the Orthodox 
Church because Orthodox Christians have been among 
the bravest defenders of Russia. 

Finally, now that Russia has become one of the great 

1 It must be added that Communism is making use of the Orthodox Church, 
and here lies a danger of the return to the servitude of the Church to the State. 


powers and that its influence is destined to extend all over 
the world, the Orthodox Church will benefit from Russia's 
might. In consequence, we shall be faced with a problem 
that hardly existed before: the Orthodox mission. There 
have been Protestant and Catholic missions; there have 
been very few Orthodox missions. In the future there will 
be Orthodox missions in the measure that Russia expands 
and carries along with her whatever remains of her past, 
particularly the Orthodox religion. 

It must be added that the Orthodox religion has in its 
favour an extraordinary liturgical power, with a great 
fascination for the souls of today. It possesses a certain 
tradition of prayer which we in our Roman tradition have 
in great part lost. To think that we are coming to twenty- 
minute Masses in some churches! That is a serious matter, 
because in such Masses the climate of prayer is not created. 
In such short ceremonies we do not get the impression 
created by those endless Russian ceremonies in which a 
liturgical climate is created that is both captivating and 
powerful, especially to the Asiatic mind. 

Therefore, we must realize that in the Orthodox religion 
we shall be confronted by a powerful movement. In the 
face of this it is disastrous that unity, far from coming 
closer, seems farther away than ever unless it is coming 
by ways that are not ours. From this point of view, God's 
designs are beyond our comprehension. What we must do, 
first of all, is to pray, and then to be watchful and clear- 
sighted. We must learn to recognize die good in others 
and realize that Catholicism must perhaps take certain 
exigencies into account if it is to answer the needs of human 

There are many analogous questions to ask concerning 
Protestantism. At one time Protestants turned toward 
what has been called Protestant liberalism, that is to say, a 


Protestantism which was concerned above all with morality, 
and whose dogmatic aspects were greatly attenuated. Many 
Protestants did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. 
They believed that Christ brought us a very noble ideal, 
but they rejected all dogma concerning the divinity of 
Christ and of the Blessed Trinity. At the present time, 
however, there Is a strong dogmatic rebirth among 
Protestants, and the younger generation of Protestants are 
men of great faith. Their master, the great Calvinist 
theologian Karl Earth, who is one of the finest figures in 
Europe today and who wrote from Basle incomparable 
pages on Nazism, has been, so to speak, the very incarnation 
of the spiritual resistance. 

Thus, here is a Protestantism that is coming closer to 
Catholicism. Yet, in so doing it becomes more vigorous 
because it has more Catholic elements and a greater portion 
of truth, and thereby attains far greater efficacy and becomes 
far more capble than it was of answering the needs of 
souls. This is, of course, a great homage it renders to 
Catholicism f . The rebirth of Protestant dogmatism is a 
cause for great hope, and we should rejoice to see Protest- 
ants coming back to fundamental dogmas and drawing So 
much closer to us. 

A second question which concerns the missionary 
problem more directly; Catholicism's power of expansion. 
Has not this power declined? And is not present-day 
Catholicism somewhat shrivelled up within itself, having 
lost the sense of its evangelical mission among the non- 
Christian peoples ? If this were true, it would be something 
to grieve over. It would indicate that Catholicism no 
longer seeks to conquer the world, that it has become 
resigned in the face of certain barriers, that it is stopped 
by them, that it runs foul of them, and that it has lost 
hope of overthrowing them. 


I return once again to the problem I raised earlier: 
Has Catholicism renounced the task of unifying humanity? 
Is it resigned to internal divisions ? Is it resigned to running 
foul of civilizations that are impermeable to it, and that 
are more and more penetrated by Communism? Is Com- 
munism, indeed, becoming more universal than Catholicism ? 
The problem is most serious. In the presence of Com- 
munism's universalism the problem of Catholic univer- 
salism becomes most acute. There is a Christian testimony 
to be borne everywhere. Consequently, there is need of 
faith in Christ, Who said to His Apostles: " Going therefore, 
teach ye all nations, omnes genus." We must, after all, 
decide to obey. 

Whence the importance of the missionary problem. If 
we want to answer Communism, we must first of all turn 
in the direction of universalism. We accomplish more 
against Communism by labouring for the expansion of 
Catholicism in non-Christian lands than we do by disputing 
about the distribution of wealth or increase of production 
in our own country. These are not the essential things. The 
fundamental problem is spiritual, and it is on the spiritual 
level, first of all, that the battle must be fought. As St. 
Paul tells us, it is with the princes of this world that we 
must fight. The missionary perspective embraces the world 
itself, and this is the battlefield on which the great conflict- 
ing movements are coming to grips. 



ACCORDING to Our Lord's words, "As the Father hath 
sent Me, I also send you/* 1 missionary life is an extension 
of that first mission, that is, the sending by the Father 
of His Son into the world. That first mission remains the 
point of departure, the sole origin, the source of all other 
missions. There is, in truth, only one mission, that one; 
and all the others are but its participations and derivations. 
So, if we return to that prime source, we shall find that it is 
the origin of all missionary activity. This mission of the 
Word was unfolded through history in several successive 
manifestations. Let us consider these manifestations. Each 
of them will open up to us an important missionary 

We shall begin by talking about the mission of the Word 
In the pagan world, that is, the presence of the Word 
among non-Christians. No man is a stranger to the 
presence of the Word, and this brings us at once to the 
whole problem of pagan religions and their significance. 
Next, we shall study the mission of the Word in the Jewish 
world, and what progress it represents by comparison with 
natural revelation. Finally, we shall see what is the full 
mission of the Word, that is, the Incarnation of Our Lord, 
and the progress it manifests in the accomplishment of 
Christ's mission. 

Of the three Divine Persons, why was it the Word 
Who was sent forth? Why did not the Father become 

l john, XX, 21. 


man? Or the Holy Ghost? This is explained to us by what 
Scripture, particularly the New Testament, tells us con- 
cerning the person of the Word and His relation to the 
Father. The Word, as His very name Implies* Ferium, 
Logos, is the element of expression in God, whereas the 
Father is the element of origin and principle. The Father 
expresses Himself through His Word, Who is His image. 
As Saint Paul says in an admirable text of the Epistle to the 
Colossians: "(He) | s the image of the invisible God/' 1 
Or again, in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "(He is) the 
figure of His (the Father's) substance." 2 Therefore He is, 
as it were, an image in which God sees Himself and is 

Therefore, it is natural that if, as certain Fathers of the 
Church have said, the Father is Silence, whereas the Word 
is Expression and this is in the eternal generation of the 
Word, inasmuch as the Father expresses Himself eternally 
through His Word, prior to all creation then it is also 
normal that there should be a special relation between 
the Word and creation. The Word is the substantial and 
eternal image of God. Creation is like a reflection of this 
image, the image of the image, as the Fathers of the Church 
used to say. That is what we find in the mysterious and 
pregnant prologue of Saint John that we read every day 
at Mass: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word 
was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the 
beginning with God. All things were made by Him/ 1 
He was with the Father from all eternity, and it was through 
Him that everything was created. Or again, as Saint Paul 
says in the Epistle to the Colossians: "He is the first-born 
of every creature." a At first glance, this expression seems 
mysterious to us because the Word is not a creature. He 
exists eternally. But He is the first-born of every creature 

1 Colossians, I, 15-. 2 Hebrews, I, 3. 3 Colossians, I, 15. 


in the sense that it is through Him that all creatures 
were created. And that is why the Epistle to the 
Colossians adds: "All things were created by him and 
in him/' 1 

This is very important in stressing the bond that exists 
between the Word and creation; that is why, when the 
Word came into the world to save it, Saint John was able 
to say: "He came unto his own*' His own domain, among 
His own people "and his own knew him not." But, at 
any rate, He came into His own domain. Thus, when the 
Word came into the world at the Incarnation, it was not 
by accident, as if the world had gone on without Him until 
then, and He had come only at that particular moment. 
But from its origin the world was His. It was by Him 
that the world had been made, it was through Him that 
the world was held together. In consequence, when He 
came into the world, He came into His own domain, 
He came among His own. And on this were founded the 
various missions of the Word in the world, through which 
the Word was to come in order to achieve His work, and 
little by little bring it to fruition. 2 

Now, we can start from a fundamental consideration, 
namely, the universal character of the religious fact. It 
is on this base that the missionary apostolate was later to 
be founded. As we come to understand the peoples of 
antiquity better through new research, and as we come to 
know more about the pagan peoples of the present through 
missionaries, it is manifest that no matter how far back we 
go in the history of the world we find a religious mentality 
everywhere and at all times, that is to say, a cult rendered 

1 Colossians , I, 16. 

2 This bond between the Word and Creation has been brought to light in 
particular by. Saint Irenaeus. See Jules Lehreton: History of the Dogma of the 
Trinity, from its Origins to the Council of Nicaea . . . translated by Algar ThoroJd. 
London, Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1939. Volume II. 


to a superior power. We might note In passing that atheism, 
irreligion, Is a purely modern fact. It Is not to be found In 
the past history of the world, and It appears foreign to 
human nature. We get the impression that atheism is 
always a kind of abnormality. Man is by nature a religious 

And even In the modern world, is atheism really 
common? Are there so many men who live outside of all 
religion? In this connection we should note that a genuine 
religious attitude may exist without a true knowledge of 
God. By this I mean that there Is a fundamental religious 
attitude wherever there is recognition of an absolute. Now, 
it can and often does happen In the modern world that men, 
for various reasons, are turned away from the knowledge 
of the true God and acquire false notions about existing 

Let us take, for example, the children of a country 
like present-day Russia, who have had Christianity presented 
to them in caricature. Evidently, these children will 
spontaneously reject this Christianity, for it will appear 
to them to be an aberration. None the less, they will 
continue to feel a religious hunger most of the time. This 
religious hunger will of necessity find appeasement some- 
where: they will adore other things. For instance, they 
will accept the ideal of Soviet Russia as a kind of absolute 
for which they will be willing to give their lives. Will a 
complete absence of religion ensue? I do not think so. 
There will be a distorted, deformed religion, but the 
religious hunger, transposed toward another object, will 
none the less exist. The day true religion is revealed to 
these children, many of them will recognize what they have 
been groping for in various ersatz forms. 1 

1 See Canon Pierre Tiberghien, Vie Intellectmlle, November 2$, 1934, p. 39 


There are very few men who are really atheists; what 
passes for atheism is mostly a falsification and distortion 
of religion. In general, this is what the missionary has to 
deal with. In consequence, his task is rather one of re- 
directing the religious sense so that it may attain its true 
object. He is not faced with a religious vacuum which he 
must fill, as it were, from zero, 

The religious fact is pretty nearly a universal reality. 
What is the origin of this univeml reality? How comes 
it that men everywhere possess a religion and believe in 
God? How is it that almost all men have a religion? This 
is the heart of the matter. If almost all men have a religion, 
it is because the Logos 9 the "Word of God," makes Him- 
self known to them. **He enlightens every man who comes 
into the world," as Saint John tells us, and He accom- 
plishes this in a twofold manner: First, He speaks to every 
inward man because no man is a stranger to the grace 
coming from Christ, and there is not a single man whom 
the Word of God does not obscurely and mysteriously 
solicit in the direction of goodness. In this respect we hold 
without exception that no man in the world is a complete 
stranger to God, and that even in the most culpable and 
warped soul the Word of God subsists, lying in wait, 
seeking to make the most of the slightest good intention, of 
the smallest good action. True, sanctifying grace is obtained 
only through Baptism, and it is the privilege of those only 
who possess Christ in His plenitude. But there also exists 
this predisposing actual grace, through which God acts in 
every human soul. 

Then, there is the external manifestation of the Word 
in the world. Saint Paul says in the Acts of the Apostles 
that God did not leave Himself without testimony in the 
world. * Therefore there are testimonies of God through 

1 Acts of the Apostles, XIV, 16. 


which He manifests Himself to men. The entire visible 
world should be conceived as a universe of signs through 
which the Word * 'makes signs s * to men, and indicates 
to them that there are other things besides what they see. 
Poets have at times had intimations of this. Claudel 
expressed it admirably when he said that the world is a 
book, that is, a whole system of signs, and through these 
signs God speaks to us. For we must not look upon these signs 
impersonally, as a kind of symbolism. There is much more to 
it than that. It is a person who is making signs to each one of 
us. It is God Himself Who is perpetually making signs to 
every single man, through all the interventions that are His. 
How does He do this? First, through the visible world, 
through the order of nature, through the very existence 
of things which arouse questions in men's minds. Where 
did this come from? How is that maintained in its proper 
order? . . . The proofs for the existence of God systema- 
tize all that, but these proofs often appear to us to be 
abstract, to be exercises in logic. They are valid, but they 
leave many men unmoved. But I am thinking now of some- 
thing more elementary and more powerful than reason, 
to which reasoning merely gives form. It is said that there 
are not merely five proofs for the existence of God, but 
millions. All things are replete with proofs for the 
existence of God, for God makes signs to us through every 
created thing. The trouble is that we do not listen for 
these signs from God, these proofs of His existence. Thus, 
we must declare with the Church that it is easy to believe 
in God. This idea may at times surprise us, but it has been 
enunciated by the Vatican Council. Indeed, as Peguy says, 
we would have to do ourselves violence not to believe in 
God. 1 Our rationalism may muster up objections, but 

1 Porche du myst&re de la deuxitme vertu. Oeuvres Completes, Paris, Editions de la 
Nouvelle Revue Fran^aise, 1916-1927, Volume . 


our first movement must be to answer these signs from 
God and to hear witness to Him. 

The proofs for the existence of God by purely intel- 
lectual methods are not the whole story. What is involved 
Is the revelation of a presence. This presence of God may 
be manifested to us in a thousand different ways. God 
may at times speak to us more directly through our intelli- 
gence, and that is how we shall encounter Him. But God 
can likewise make use of events. Let us call to mind the 
words of Chateaubriand, "I wept and I believed." It will 
be said: That is not an argument. Yes, it is an argument; 
and for him it was the best, for it is the argument that led 
him to believe. He would have been absolutely imper- 
meable to arguments, but he experienced the presence of 
God through suffering. l 

Again, persons whom we meet may often prove to be 
signs from God. Such and such a person may be a mani- 
festation, a sign from God. Realizing this, we should be 
aware also of what a serious responsibility we have towards 
others. For, just as others may be signs from God for us, 
we also are signs from God for them. We are a language 
through which God speaks to others, just as others are a 
language through which God speaks to us. It rests with us 
to make this language intelligible and to permit this mani- 
festation of God to pass through us. 

For all of us there are two primary facts, God and our- 
selves, God and each of our souls. Then, between God and 
us there is the whole world of creatures through which 
God reveals Himself to souls, and through which souls 
commune with Him. Now, this includes not only the 
external world of things, but also the world of persons. 
The mission, truly understood, is an outstanding example 

1 See the excellent study by Jean Mouroux, "Structure personelle de la foi", 
in Recherches de la science religieu$e t i$39> p. 8. 


of this. In the mission, It is essentially through the person 
of the missionary, through his testimony, that souls come 
into contact with God. It Is the method He has chosen. 
It is our terrible responsibility that through our silence 
we can prevent God's messages from being disseminated. 

Here we are entering the realm of the relations between 
the living God and living man. Indeed, the God of religion, 
He Whom we find through the Word of God, is a living 
Being, into whose presence we come. I insist on this 
word "presence". It is not an abstract idea, a general 
principle, it is a personal Being to Whom we have recourse. 
In consequence, the essential religious act is prayer. It 
is through prayer that we reach up to God and that we make 
proper response to the signs coming from God. Prayer, a 
protestation against the world, an avowal of our helpless- 
ness, is the act by which we ask God's assistance to help 
us rise out of our misery and provide for our wants . Prayer 
is the primordial religious fact. 

All pagan religions attain some knowledge of God, 
However, since they have not the revelation of God 
Himself, they focus on the wrong object and often turn 
out to be gross caricatures of religion, although they some- 
times arrive at truly noble ideas. All that is good in these 
religions comes from God, in respect to whatever intuition 
they can have of Him through the signs that He gives to 
them. On the other hand, all their vagaries and all their 
inadequacies ensue from the uncertainty and confusion 
which is endemic in them. There is something immeasur- 
ably moving in the thought of this great portion of humanity, 
religious at heart, groping after God but seeking Him in 
darkness, in tenebris, as the Canticle of Zacharias says, and 
sometimes failing to find Him because those whose mission 
it is do not bring Him to them, or present Him only in 
caricature. This is the great responsibility of all Christians, 


for they are, as it were, visible manifestations of God in the 

The second mission of the Word is His mission among 
the Jewish people. What is the nature of this mission, 
and what advance did the religion of Israel make over the 
natural religion of which we were just speaking? We are 
struck, first of all, In studying the Old Testament, by the 
fact that God appeared as a living God Who intervened 
directly in the life of the people. He did not merely make 
signs from a distance, as He does to the pagans; but he 
manifested Himself to His people, leading them in their 
peregrinations through the Egyptian desert, and chastising 
them when they turned away from Him. This interference 
by God in history is the Covenant. 

The Jewish people still had very obscure and anthropo- 
morphic notions of God. They pictured Him as giving 
expression to jealousy and anger. It demonstrates very 
well and this is what Is interesting about it that the 
Jews, before learning to know God's true nature, before 
having a clear conception of Him, first came upon Him as 
an inescapable fact which upset their established ways. 
They were to grasp the full meaning of this fact only by 
degrees, exactly as we come only by degrees to appreciate 
the spiritual riches of a friend long after we have met. 

In the second place, the Revelation of God to Israel 
is the Revelation of One God, and it is on this point, most 
of all, that Jewish Revelation marks an advance over other 
religions. This is what had to be instilled into the people, 
because the great temptation of that time was polytheism, 
which consisted in dispersing the religious urge among a 
multitude of entities and diverse beings. There was in 
this polytheism a certain recognition of divinity, but it 
involved a misconception of the fundamental unity of God. 

How did God manifest His unity? In several ways. 


Principally, according to the words of Scripture, by His 
jealousy which led Him to chastise His people every time 
they turned towards other gods like a husband who claims 
the undivided love of his spouse and will not tolerate 
infidelity in her. This theme runs through the entire Old 
Testament. Every time the Jewish people were tempted 
to turn toward the gods of the Egyptians or the Baby- 
lonians following the elementary logic that the power of 
these peoples was attributable to their gods and therefore , 
if these were mighty gods, it might be wise to pray to them 
Yahweh always brought his people back to repose in 
Him, their only mainstay. Furthermore, Yahweh revealed 
to Israel that this One God is also the God of all other 
peoples, that He is the Only God, that all races are in His 
hand, and that while He has made a special covenant with 
Israel, He is still the God of the whole human race. All 
other gods are false gods. 

There is still another aspect of this Revelation that leads 
us one step higher in the scale of religious knowledge: 
God reveals Himself as the God of holiness. Here \* e come 
to something even more essential to the knowledge of 
God, for holiness is what defines His absolutely unique 
and specific attribute with respect to all creatures, that is, 
excellence itself. It is an incomparable excellence by which 
He is, as it were, set apart from every created being, and by 
reason of which every creature is, as it were, tainted with 
impurity in His sight. It is a holiness which arouses in human 
souls the two essential religious feelings whose dialectic per- 
vades the entire religious life of the Jewish people. 

First, it creates a great attraction, because sanctum is also 
^ The saint is the person who is august, he in 

1 See Otto, Rudolf: The Idea of the Holy . . . translated by John W. Harvey. 
London, Oxford University Press, 1936, Cf. pp. 2 ff. (The Idea of the Holy* 
An Inquiry into the non-rational factor in the idea of +he Divine and its relations to the 


whom we glimpse a perfection above all other perfection, 
a perfection that is Infinitely desirable, that charms and 
attracts us with the power of the Psalms. At the same time, 
In the presence of this excellence, of this perfection of 
God's, we have a feeling of fear and almost of being rejected 
because contact with His holiness makes us aware of our 
own fundamental impurity , of our unworthiness, and in 
consequence we realize our profound need of being united 
to Him. True religious feeling is a combination of these 
two. If we have only the former' the desire to be united 
to God without having the sense of His holiness and of 
His greatness, we run the risk of not purifying ourselves 
sufficiently. On the other hand, if we have only the latter 
fear in His presence without having enough trust, we 
risk having a purely negative attitude towards Him, one 
not sufficiently motivated by love. The total religious 
attitude is a union of fear and love. 

We see how the Word, by means of all this pedagogy, 
was leading the Jewish people to the noble conception of 
God, which alone was to make possible the last stage of 
Revelation, to be found in Christ. Indeed, the mission 
of the Logos in the Old Testament is but to prepare for a 
third mission, the real one: the coming of Christ in the 
flesh in the fulness of time. That is what we find at the 
beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews : * ' God who . . . 
spoke in times past ... by the prophets ... in" these 
days hath spoken to us by his Son." 1 "In these days" 
means specifically at the time that Our Lord came into the 
world. At that moment, the Word, Who was already pre- 
sent in the world in a certain manner, manifested Himself 
fully by His Incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary. 
According to a very beautiful idea of Saint Irenaeus, before 
that time He had been in the world in order to accustom 

1 Hebrew*, I, i-2. 


men to Him, and to accustom Himself to men. 1 It was 
only after He had completed this preliminary task of 
education, this preparatory work, that He came In the 
flesh through the Incarnation, In the fulness of time. 

We shall now simply follow the Gospel of Saint John. 
After having said: li ln propria vcnit, et sui sum non receperunt 
He came unto his own and his own received him not" 
(that is the Old Testament), we come to: i& Et habitavit 
in nobis and dwelt among us.*' This life among us repre- 
sented the decisive stage in the manifestation of the Word 
in the world. There is no time to explain this in detail 
here. Let us merely sketch, in two or three strokes, the 
outstanding characteristics of this new stage in the Revela- 
tion of the Word. Whereas in natural religion the existence 
of God is grasped, and in the Jewish religion the holiness 
of God is manifested, in the Christian religion we are 
introduced into intimacy with God, and this is the great 
richness of Christ's Revelation. This is so, first, because 
the essence of the New Testament is the revelation of 
the mystery of the Trinity, that is, the mystery of God's 
intimate life : we become aware of this vast life of love in 
God, by which the Father gives Himself to the Son, and 
by which the love of the Father and the Son is the Holy 
Ghost. We know this only because Christ revealed it to 
us. Thus, we contemplate Christ's life of union with His 
Father, this being the visible manifestation of the invisible 
life of the Divine Persons and of the circulation of love 
within God, of which the Trinity is simply the name. 

Further, what Christ reveals to us and brings to us is a 
kind of participation in the intimate life of God. Obvi- 
ously, this is the essential part of Christ's work. Christ, 
the Son of God, calls to us and makes us capable of partici- 
pating in His sonship. He has made of us adopted sons 

1 Lebreton, op. cit., Volume II. 


of God. In so doling^ He has Introduced us Into the family 
of God, into Intimacy with God. Thus, ours is not only 
a relationship of creature to Creator, as defined by the 
Old Testament, a relationship founded on fear. We now 
become 5 in a manner, participants in the Divine nature, 
and In consequence we have the right to treat with Him 
as sons, on a footing of equality. 

In this manner, the Word is made progressively manifest 
through the course of human history. Viewed as a whole, 
what is striking about this manifestation is its progressive 
character. Why does God not go about the fulfilment 
of His plan more quickly? Why was it necessary to start 
with such an obscure revelation? Why was it necessary 
to pass through the intermediary of the election of the 
Jewish people? And, transporting these questions to the 
contemporary scene, why must there be so many people 
who even today are at the stage of primitive Revelation, 
who are in the night of confused and obscure religion? 

All this is explained in the divine pedagogy through 
which the Word prepared humanity little by little to 
receive in its fulness the message He came to give. In 
the beginning, He took humanity as it was, like a child, 
teaching it what a child can grasp, and bringing it only by 
slow degrees to an understanding of greater mysteries. 
It is very important for us to meditate on this method of 
God's, because it will help us better to understand what 
our own missionary attitude should be ; we should not be 
impatient, but be able to contemplate the unfolding of this 
divine plan, to admire it and worship it in its mysterious- 
ness and in its progressive development, meanwhile trying 
to hasten its fulfilment in every way we can. 

For we can help in the work of the Word by being truly 
transparent signs, intelligible signs, through which He 
can manifest Himself to the world. The Word, as an 


artisan working throughout the world to form a perfect 
humanity, must find In us instruments, collaborators. Let 

us bear in mind the beautiful words of Denys the Areo- 

paglte: "There is nothing more divine, among ail divine 
things, than to co-operate with God in the salvation of 
souls. 5> We must become labourers with this labouring 
God, Who toils, Who is active throughout the world to 
establish the only stable society, the Heavenly Jerusalem, 
the Jerusalem on High. 



THERE are two ways of looking at the problem of missions. 
We shall try to bring out the portion of truth that exists 
in each of them. Let us take as an example the problem 
of evangelizing Islam at the present time. It can be con- 
ceived in two ways. 

On the one hand we can say: Islam is an obstacle; if 
we want to implant Christianity in the souls of Moslems 
we must first of all destroy Islam within them, because 
so long as these souls are within the clutches of Islam they 
will remain impermeable to the Christian message. When, 
for instance, Mustafa Kemal, the great Turkish statesman, 
laboured to modernize Turkey by destroying the ancient 
institutions of the country notably, giving women infinitely 
more liberty and substituting non-sectarian education along 
Western lines for Moslem teachings some thought that 
by destroying Islam he was preparing the way for 
Christianity. They believed that it would be much better 
to deal with free-thinkers than with Moslems, and that the 
total absence of religion was better than false religion. 

Then, there is another point of view. Louis Massignon, 
in a remarkable book on al-Hallaj * (a great Moslem mystic), 
has shown that Islam has been able to develop admirable 
souls. Rather than destroy Islam, might it then not be 
better to expand it? What is Islam? It is at bottom, the 
argument runs, inchoate Christianity. We must not 
replace it by free-thought, but on the contrary develop 

1 Louis Massignon: la Passion . . . d*al-HaUaj> Martyr Mystique de F Islam . . . 
Paris, P. Geuthner, 1922, 2 vols. 



the religious urge more deeply, and as this urge grows in 
souls they will feel the need to go beyond Islam, If a 
Moslem followed his soul's promptings to the end, he 
would come to Christ, for he would discover certain 
insufficiencies and lacunae within his own spirit. A man 
like Hallaj discovered this. He freed himself from some 
of Islam's errors, and came out with a -very pure 

Thus, there are two completely different attitudes 
on the missionary question. Today there is a rather strong 
tendency to adopt the second: that is, to view non- Christian 
civilizations with great optimism, to recognize all that is 
worth-while in them, either from the human or the religious 
point of view, to consider them as being merely inadequate 
and needing Christianity to complement them. The 
theorist of this point of view has been Pfere Pierre Charles, 
and its great pioneers have been Pfere Labbe in China, 
P&re Aupiais in Black Africa, and the Abb6 Monchanin 
in India. The latter started out in 1938, determined to 
erect a Christian mysticism upon the Hindu structure. 1 
As he sees it, there is no reason for our imposing on the 
Hindus the human environment in which the Gospel 
became incarnate among us, nor the Neoplatonic ideology 
through which Christian mysticism found expression. 
There can quite as well be an authentic Christian mysticism 
that is Christian in content but Hindu in structure. What 
is needed is that the Hindus continue to apply their own 
methods through which they attain to a genuine asceticism, 
but that they place these methods at the service of Christ. 
This involves, first of all, on the part of the missionary an 
effort to cast off his Western mentality completely in order 
to enter without reservation into the Eastern mentality; 

1 The views of the Abbe* Monchanin have been expressed in L*lnde et k 
Christianisme, in the Cahiers Dfeu Vivant, Number III (Ed. du Seuil). 


ant! once lie IMS clone this, to strive to make of this Eastern 
mentality a new incarnation, as it were, of Christianity. 
This transformation must be accomplished first inwardly, 
so that It can afterwards shine out among others. 

In opposition to this optimistic attitude there is another, 
which holds that pagan religions are an obstacle far more 
than a preparation for the Gospel. That "was the attitude 
of most missionaries In former days. It has recently been 
restated by a Protestant missionary, Hendrik Kraemer, 
a disciple of Karl Barth, in a book entitled The Christian 
Message in a Non-Christian World. 1 Here is a summary by 
Father Jean de Menasce of the essential thesis of the book: 

"The central idea of the work is that the Christian 
message , being divine, finds in humanity nothing which 
prepares the way for It or contradicts it, so much so that 
its acceptance inevitably causes all that Is human to 
collapse, by condemning the world which is sin and 
nothing but sin. The evangelization of the world is 
the translation of this unexpected message into a language 
that not only is not meant to bear it, but even belies 
it at every instant. This means that actually the world 
as a whole and religions in particular are in their 
entirety denials of God, revolts and negations." 2 

Clearly, this attitude is at the opposite pole from the one 
presented earlier. 

I should like to consider, by means of a few examples, 
the portion of truth that may subsist in each of these points 
of view. Then, I should like to show how they are com- 
plementary. This will demonstrate that a complete 
missionary spirituality is at once a spirituality of incarnation, 

1 The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, published for the International 
Missionary Council by Harper and Bros., London, 1938, 4$$ pp. 

2 La Thfohgie de la Mission selon M. Kraemer, Nouvelle Revue de Science 
missionaire, 194^, p. 242. 


inasmuch as the first thing to do is to Implant the Gospel 
in these diverse souls and cultures ; and It is also a spiritu- 
ality and a mystery of redemption in the sense that some- 
thing must none the less be destroyed and die. That Is 
why this chapter is entitled; What Must Li?e and What 
Die what must live and what must die in each pagan 
civilization, if it is to become Christian. What must live? 
That is to say, what will come to fruition in the Gospel? 
What must die? That is to say, what are the obstacles in 
the way? 

According to the first point of view, Christianity com- 
pletes everything that is good in the world. This has 
been a striking fact since the very origins of Christianity. 
A study of Christian origins is of the greatest importance 
to discover what Christ brought that was new and what He 
borrowed from the world of His day. It is undeniable that 
primitive Christianity borrowed much, first of all, from the 
Hebraic world in which it arose. Liturgy is an example. 
Catholic liturgy is derived almost entirely from Judaic liturgy. 

What does the priest do when he says Mass? In the 
beginning of the Mass, up to the Offertory, he carries 
on what was done in the synagogues of Judaea at the time 
of Our Lord ; at that time, on the Sabbath day, Saturday 
we find examples of it in the Gospels people assembled 
in the synagogue for the reading of the Old Testament 
interspersed with chants, psalms, and prayers. Now, the 
very same texts, the very same chants, the analogous 
prayers have been continued in the Church, merely supple- 
menting readings from the Old Testament with readings 
from the New Testament. This is a typical example of how 
Christianity has prolonged institutions that had existed 
before, not destroying but merely completing them. 

The second part of the Mass is wholly distinct from the 
first in its origins. It took place, originally, in the evening, 


whereas the first part took place in the morning. It is a 
continuation of what Christ did on the evening of the Last 
Supper, and, In keeping with the traditional Jewish religious 
repasts, this was preceded by a blessing. 1 The Canon 
prayer is the prolongation of the prayer of benediction 
that began these repasts. However, this portion of the 
Mass terminates with something that was merely pre- 
figured in the Jewish religious repast: that is, the bread 
that is offered up is not merely a symbol; it Is truly the 
Body and Blood of Christ. There again, we see how the 
Christian liturgy is the extension , the accomplishment, the 
consummation of the Judaic liturgy, of which it has sup- 
pressed almost nothing. 

From another point of view, Christianity was born in 
a Hellenized world. Here again, it certainly borrowed 
much from the ideas of that world. Dom Casel believes 
that in the * 'mystery" of the Mass, that is, the religious 
reality which is at once effectuated and represented by 
means of rite, there is an idea that was current in the Greek 
world at the time of Our Lord, when there were mysteries 
such as the mystery of Isis, of Adonis, and &{ Mithras. 2 

What has Christianity done? Just as it borrowed the 
form of its prayer from the Jewish milieu, inasmuch as 
Christian prayer is an extension of Jewish prayer prayer 
being a general religious category; likewise it borrowed 
from the Hellenistic world the form of the "mystery," 
which is another religious category. It has borrowed these 
religious categories, but filled them with a new reality. 

Let us take another example, that of Christian mysticism. 
It is certain that this absolutely new and original religious 

1 On all these points see Baumstark, Anton: Liturgic Compares, Edition of the 
Benedictines of Amay-s.-Meuse. 275 pp. n.d. 

2 See Dorn Odo Casel, le Mtmrial du Seigneur t Editions du Cerf, Paris, 194$. 
This theory, open to question in respect to the origins of the Mass, contains 
some truth with regard to the fourth century. 


experience, \\hich had had no earlier equivalent, ex- 
pressed itself by means of formulas and even by means of 
certain inward attitudes borrowed from Plotinus, from 
Neoplatonism, and from the asceticism then existing in 
the Hellenistic world. For instance, when we speak of 
the three ways to sanctification the purgative way, the 
illuminative way, and the unitive way we are using words 
that had already been used by Porphyry long before Saint 
John of the Cross and the Christian theologians. In fact, 
there are non-Catholic .scholars who believe that this 
asceticism has been incorporated into Christianity and has 
corrupted it. I That, of course, is not so. What is certain 
is that here was a providential preparation of which 
Christianity made use. 

It is most interesting to consider that this idea was 
given expression as early as the second century after Jesus 
Christ. Apologists like Saint Justin, for example, told 
the Greeks of that time that Plato had prepared the way 
for Christ, that the sibyl and Virgil had announced Him 
and had known Him beforehand. In Eve y Peguy took up 
this same theme magnificently when he described the 
pagan preparation for Christ's coming: 

< Et les pas d 5 Alexandra avaient marche pour lui . . . 
Et le dernier soleil pour lui seul avait lui 
Sur la mort d'Aristote et la mort de Socrate." 

It was for Him, for Christ, the centre of the world, 
the centre of history, not only that the Jewish people had 
been prepared, but that all these pagan civilizations 
the conquests of Alexander, the thinking of Socrates and 
Aristotle had also been prepared. When Christ appeared 

1 See Andr& Marie Jean Festugiere, V Enfant <? Agrigente, p. 119; and in opposi- 
tion, Jean Danielou, Platamsme et Thfologie Mystique, Paris, Aubier, Editions 
Montaigne, 1944, p. 8. 


It was not only because the Jewish people were ready to 
receive Him, but also because, on the one hand, Greek 
thought had completed the labour that was to enable it 
to give form to Christian theology, and because, on the 
other hand, Roman order had established In the Mediter- 
ranean Basin the social framework that was to provide the 
Church with some of her institutions. 

From the missionary point of view, the problem at 
once arises whether what was true of the first and second 
centuries of our era is true today with respect to those 
lands that are still, vis-a-vis Christianity, in the same stage 
as were the Greek and Roman worlds at the time of Our 
Lord. Are India, China and Africa lands where in the 
designs of providence Christianity will find new categories, 
new forms of thought, new fulfilments? There may well 
be many aspects of Christianity that we have not yet dis- 
covered and that we shall not discover until Christianity 
has been refracted through every facet of the prism of 
human civilization. It has been refracted only through 
the Greek and Roman worlds, but it will have to be 
refracted through the Chinese facet and the Hindu facet 
in order to attain its total fulfilment; and this total fulfil- 
ment will not come through the conversion of indi- 
vidual men, but through the Christianization of all the 
civilizations of the earth. All of these civilizations must 
be permeated by Christianity, and Christianity must bring 
to blossom whatever in them has been in the nature of 
providential preparation. 

This obviously opens up an immense field for reflection. 
In the measure that we study these civilizations, that we 
are in sympathy with them, the problem for us becomes 
one of understanding which of their aspects can be incor- 
porated into Christianity and are to be nurtured. This 
requires a certain amount of stripping off of everything in 


us that is merely Western because, after all, our Christianity 
is a Westernized Christianity, Now, it is accidental that 
Christianity should have been Westernized, We must 
learn to extricate from its cultural background the essential 
message of the Gospel, and place this message in contact 
with other civilizations, to see in what measure it is to 
become incarnate in them. 

Let us take the world of Islam , which is a very particular 
case, for Islam appeared after the beginning of the Christian 
era and, on the whole, it was grafted on the Jewish trunk, 
It is an extension of Jewish monotheism and at the same 
time it contains certain elements derived from Christian 
heretics of Abyssinia with whom Mohammed came in 
contact. The history of Mohammed on this point is most 
interesting. Mohammed tore his people away from 
polytheism and brought them to the cult of the true God, 
the One God. In that respect, his role lias certainly been 
admirable. Many religious elements have been incor- 
porated into his work. 

Thus there is in Islam a sense of the greatness of God, 
of His holiness, a horror of all anthropomorphism and 
a sense of mystery, all of which make impossible any 
representation whatever of God. It even goes so far as 
to make an understanding of the Incarnation very difficult 
for the Moslems, and this is what in Islam must die. But 
there also exists in Islam and we shall stress this aspect 
for a moment a genuine sense of the transcendence of 
God, which is an essential religious category. On this 
point we must not hesitate to say that the Moslems may 
well have much to teach us. They have a far greater sense 
of the urgency of God, of the presence of God in society, 
than we have in our Western civilizations. The proportion 
of Moslems who pray every day is far greater than the 
proportion of Europeans or Americans. God is, from this 


point of view, deeply incorporated in their civilization. 
Mohammed was able to inculcate IE his people an 
admirable religious sense. 

You will remember how Psichari was dumbfounded 
when he saw Moslems praying out la the desert, and how 
he understood at that moment, as Carrel says in his little 
book on prayer, that prayer Is a religious need as funda- 
mental as breathing. One can stifle from lack of prayer 
just as one can stifle from lack of air. Indeed, our Western 
world, in its restless and activistic life, has completely 
lost this sense of prayer. That is why there are so many 
mentally ill and eccentrics In our midst: people don't 
pray enough. There is a well of silence within themselves 
to which they have no access, a domain of peace they know 
not how to enter. Islam has held on to these things. 
Therefore, should Islam be converted, we can imagine 
it would have a much more extensive religious social life 
than we have in our lands. Islam would then be in reality 
and forthwith a Christendom. In fact, this calls to mind 
our own Middle Ages, a period when civilization was 
deeply permeated by Christianity. 

This sense of the greatness of God develops religious 
dispositions within men's souls, a sense of adoration, for 
example, and these are eminent religious qualities which 
we possess far too little. We of the West sometimes have 
a kind of familiarity with God, which in itself is good, but 
which may also involve a certain loss of the exalted sense of 
His holiness and of His greatness. This sense is profoundly 
imbedded in the Moslem mentality. I have taken the sense 
of God's transcendence as an example, for it is one of the 
notable characteristics of Islam. Other examples, of 
course, could be given. 

Now, let us turn to India. In a sense, India is even more 
fascinating, for here is a world which unfolded entirely 


outside of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Islam contains, 
as we have said, Judaeo-Christian elements; and we can 
easily find those elements because ours is a common origin. 
India, on the other hand, Is a total stranger to these origins. 
Well! There, too, we find eminent religious values. The 
first that may be mentioned is the sense of the unique 
reality of the invisible world. This is one of the most 
striking characteristics of Indian culture : the visible world 
is a mirage, and what really exists Is the interior world. 

This is an error^ yet does not lack nobility. On this 
point, India is the antithesis of the African Negro world 
it is curious how these diverse civilizations represent 
certain attitudes. The African Negro world is characterized 
by its profound immersion in the instinctive life. The 
Negroes are particularly gifted with respect to the imagina- 
tion. There is great imaginative power in Negro art, 
deeply rooted in instinct. This is a remarkable gift, which 
would make, and has made, magnificent artists. 

Thus, the day the Negro world is Christianized, one 
can foresee a prodigious sacramental and liturgical develop- 
ment, a religious art, a return to the sacred dance, which 
is now foreign to us. (After all, David danced before the 
Ark, and the dance is a means of praising God like any 
other.) I cannot conceive how African Negroes could 
praise God without dancing, for the dance is so much a 
part of their being that it is an integral part of their 
civilization. Through them we would discover once again 
the liturgical meaning of the sacred dance. This would 
have disconcerting consequences for us. How could we 
impose the Roman Mass on them this silent Mass, so 
admirably Western, so sober, so inward, so discreet, so 
reserved, wherein the mightiest religious feelings find 
expression in perfect decorum? It delights us because it 
fulfils in the religious order those qualities of discretion, of 


moderation, that are so eminently ours, that are the mark 
of our mystics and of our saints. But obviously it would 
arouse no religious enthusiasm whatever among the peoples 
of Senegal and Morocco. They need a different incarnation 
of Christianity, one that is in line with their instincts and 
with their entire being. 

For India, there is no question of exuberance. On the 
contrary, it is the stripping of the imagination that pre- 
dominates. It is not through signs that India would find 
its way to God, but far more through the void, African 
Negroes need symbols. Indians, at their very best, are 
embarrassed by symbols. 1 Their vision of Gad is much 
more naked, much more abstract, and it is precisely 
through this inward abstraction, through the void, through 
silence, that they find interior reality. In consequence, 
India would hold for us fewer great liturgists and liturgical 
revelations, and more mystics, more monastic and ascetic 
revelations. There is in India a monastic instinct. We 
are also familiar with the religious civilizations of Tibet 
and of China. Asia is like an immense monastery, merely 
waiting to put its aspirations at the service of the true God. 
The Hindus are striving toward the contemplation of this 
formless God, this Soul of all things, this principle which 
is the substance of all things. After all, this is the 
highest that man can attain through his own strength: 
the realization that above and beyond all multiplicity there 
is a certain unity into which we hope to plunge and to 
return, to lose ourselves and be dissolved. Indeed, this 
may be what is highest in the human order, but it remains 
infinitely below the revelation of the God Who is love, of 
the God of the Trinity, in Whom there is a life of eternal 
love, and Who calls ils to participate in that life. 

1 While this is true of Buddhism, it would require some qualification in die 
case of Hinduism. 


In India, contemplation ends in an obscure mist. There 
are no illuminating rays descending from the Trinity to 
pierce the fog and reach men's innermost hearts. Yet 
one cannot think without emotion of this great monastic 
civilization, of this instant search for God. What are we 
waiting for to bring them the true God? Yes, we should 
be on our way, and, like Saint Francis Xavier, we wonder 
what we are doing here when there are so many peoples 
waiting. Revelation must be carried to these peoples, so 
that their prayer may be a genuine prayer and so that it 
may be addressed to the true God. Now we can under- 
stand why the Abbe Monchanin left everything in order 
to try to take out to India the beginnings of an answer. 

There is, then, a sense of expectation which existed in 
the early Christian era and continues to exist today among 
the entire civilizations and worlds whose riches Christianity 
is to complete. Yet there is much also that must die. 
The great civilizations we have just considered in their 
positive reality Islam, for instance, and all that is in 
solidarity with it; Hinduism and Buddhism, the great and 
diverse cultures, religions, and philosophies of the Orient 
remain, for all their excellencies, great obstacles between 
human souls and Christ. They are what the missionaries 
strike up against, what holds them back, what retains 
souls in error. We can well understand the indignation 
against these erroneous doctrines expressed by missionaries 
of former days, and the vehemence with which they spoke 
of them. 

Let us come back to Islam. Beyond any doubt it erects 
a rampart against Christianity, perhaps the strongest of 
any for there is nothing rarer than the conversion of a 
Moslem. In the end, even Father de Foucauld failed 
miserably in his efforts to convert the Moslems. This 
defeat was more important than a victory, in that it made 


him understand that there was only one thing for him to 
do: To adore the Eucharist In the heart of the desert, to 
make a minute beginning and to pray in the name of the 
Moslems until such time as they might begin to pray them- 
selves. All the same, the attempt to evangelize Islam 
appears to be a complete failure. It is like striking against 
a stone wall. 

What is this wall? It is everything in Islam that must 
die, everything In Islam that is false, and everything in 
Islam that is (one can even go so far as to use the word) 
demoniacal. The great conflict between Christ and Belial 
that appears on every page of the Gospel goes on even 
today throughout the world. There is an evil power, a 
Satanic power, which holds souls in error and which persists. 

It is interesting to note that in the first centuries of the 
Christian era many demoniacal phenomena appeared in 
countries in the process of being converted from idolatry 
to Christianity. The same is true of pagan civilizations 
today. In my research on the fourth century I was sur- 
prised to find a great recrudescence of magic practices at 
the very moment when Roman civilization under Con- 
stantine was about to be snatched away bodily from 
paganism and to enter, as Saint Paul says, into the kingdom 
of the Son; at that time, all the rites of sorcery took on an 
incredible virulence. 

It was then that in the deserts of Nitria and Scete great 
monks who were the fathers of monasticism and of the 
contemplative life above all Anthony, the most famous 
of them all grappled with the Devil, in exactly the same 
way as the Cure d' Ars did eighty years ago in his presbytery, 
when the Devil was trying to snatch souls away from him. 

You all know about Saint Anthony's temptation, the 
place it holds in literature, music and painting, and what 
a theme it has provided for infinite aesthetic variations 


from Breughel to Flaubert. This temptation of Saint 
Anthony is one of the most dramatic episodes In the history 
of Christianity. It represents a supreme effort to tear the 
world away from the evil that is striving to hold it In 
bondage. Indeed, the real battle was fought in the desert 
far more than in Nicaea, where outwardly Constantine 
had all the advantage. It was Constantine who seemed to 
be Christianizing the world, but in reality it was Anthony 
who was tearing it away from the powers of evil. Anthony 
buried himself in the desert, that he might be in the thick 
of the fight. Indeed, Our Lord has told us that souls are 
to be won away from the Devil first by fasting and vigils, 
and that the great battle is fought in the heart of the desert, 
in the depth of solitude, on the summit of Carmel, before 
it is fought through the ministry of preachers, on the great 
highways and in the villages. 

We must tear souls away from Satan first of all through 
prayer, penance and sacrifice. That is the most crucial 
combat, and we can take part in it even now. As for the 
rest, that is Christ's concern, and He sends forth His 
labourers when He will. But first there is a mystical battle, 
a spiritual conflict, more bloody than any human battle, 
as Rimbaud has said somewhere. God's real combats are 
fought in the interior world. There, we fight furiously, 
trying to free ourselves from all the wretched desires 
within us ; there, saints suffer the assault of Satan himself, 
of the powers of evil. 

This can help us to realize the dramatic and tragic 
nature of the missionary problem, inasmuch as it Is a 
struggle to tear away souls and peoples from something 
that is opposed to Christianity, and is to its very roots the 
spirit of evil. 

Well, there is in Islam a tremendous power of resistance. 
What is this power? It consists in Islam's own defects. 


We have already spoken of Islam's greatness, of its very 
great sense of God. But it has grave defects. First of all, 
Islam materializes religion and brings it down to the level 
it attained in the Old Testament, that is to say, the level 
of temporal reality. The greatest concern of the Jewish 
people was to extend their frontiers. Islam came back to 
that, to the idea of holy wars, to a kind of identification 
between the religious world and the political world, 
between the City of God and temporal society. This is an 
appalling obstacle, because it means that when a Moslem 
frees himself from his religion, he is also set free from his 
society. He who abjures Islam is by that very fact a traitor 
to society and a traitor to country; and whoever put him to 
death would consider such action pleasing to God, for the 
victim would be looked upon as a renegade. We can well 
see that any young man or young woman of Islam who was 
converted to Christianity would become a complete 
outcast from his society and his world. Conversion under 
such circumstances is a sacrifice almost beyond human 
strength. This is indeed a terrible obstacle. 

A similar obstacle existed during the first centuries 
of the Christian era, since Roman civilization was also a 
civilization in which religion was bound up with society. 
At that period, this fact found expression, as we all know, 
in the martyrdom of Christians. Why did the Roman 
emperors persecute the Christians? It was not for meta- 
physical reasons, but because religion was identified with 
the state and was one with it. Consequently, he who turned 
away from the state religion became a stranger to society. 
From one point of view, this placed society in danger of 
disintegration. Certain modern paganisms take the same 
attitude. They view religion as a disintegrating element, 
and would syphon off all religious energies for the benefit 
of political causes. 


Such an obstacle exists in Islam, Another obstacle lies 
in Islam's moral compromise. Islam exemplifies the 
paradox of a religion whose religions exigencies are very 
great, but whose moral exigencies are somewhat relaxed, 
This is a comfortable attitude because it permits the satis- 
faction of religious needs in a way of life that is far from 
onerous. There are many people who would be very 
happy to get out of it thus easily, and Islam has seductive 
power over them. There are very few souls which have 
no religious aspirations, but there are many which have 
not the strength to follow through their aspirations 
within Christianity, because of the integrity of Christian 
morality. Many souls love Christ, but have not the strength 
to go to Him because of the demands Christianity makes. 
Islam makes its demand too, for as Father Charles, a 
Syrian missionary, has said somewhere, a religion that does 
not require certain efforts and sacrifices would not take 
hold. But Islam also finds much complicity in carnal man. 

Let us come back to the Orient, What obstacles do we 
find in India or China? We were saying that India does 
not believe in the reality of the visible world. For her, 
the only reality is the invisible world. The body is an 
illusion and in a certain degree evil. Therefore, the 
Incarnation becomes practically unthinkable. If God is 
conceived of as the principle opposed to matter and not, 
as in the authentic Christian perspective, the Creator of 
all things; if one starts from this dualism between spirit 
and matter, which is at the heart of the Hindu mentality, 
then the Incarnation becomes inconceivable. Then the 
idea of a God made man, of a God Who descends, of a God 
Who loves what is beneath Him is practically unthinkable, 
because it appears to be the fall of God. 

It is curious that this is one of the points that the highest 
philosophies in particular Hinduism, and also to a degree 


Greek Neoplatonlsm have found hardest to understand: 
that God should descend , and in so doing not fall. * You 
all recall the words of Saint John: Dem carit&s est. This is 
the very essence of Christian revelation, infinitely sur- 
passing anything that the human spirit could discover for 
itself. I am thoroughly convinced that the Hindu position 
on this matter is the position of man left to his own 
resources and reduced to his own lights, God representing 
the world above, and human action being an effort to rise 
towards Him. But the idea of a God Who comes to seek 
men and take them up to Him, this Christianity has taught 


In order to understand this, Hinduism would have to 
free itself- and this is what is so difficult from a portion 
of the attitude of mind that so profoundly colours it. A 
crisis would be needed, for Hinduism will be converted 
not by winning a few individuals away from it, but by an 
evolution within the culture itself. Thus, men will be 
needed who can enter its mentality in order to transform 
it from within, to prove that it is unsatisfactory, that it 
cannot hold up, that it must be left behind, and thereby 
open the way to Christianity. 

At bottom what keeps India away from Christ is pride. 
It is the refusal to recognize its insufficiency. The great 
idea of the Hindus is that they possess wisdom and that they 
alone control the wellsprings from which it flows. All 
else is avatar. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha are merely 
manifestations of a single message, but it is India that 
possesses this message in its purity and in its completeness. 
At bottom, Hinduism holds that there is but one wisdom 
and that there is no Revelation. 

1 On this subject see: Nygren, Anders: Eros and Agape, a Study of ths Christian 
Idea of Lore, trans, by A. G. Hebert, 1932. Also Scheler, Max Ferdinand, VHomme 
du Hessentiment, French translation, Gallimard 1942. 


Hinduism must die to this pride, just as the Jews needed 
to die to their pride, that is, to renounce themselves. 
And obviously such collective renouncement is most diffi- 
cult. The pride of the Brahmins astonishes those who go 
to India. It is what makes the Brahmins so fascinating and 
at the same time so reserved, so hermetically sealed within 
themselves. Now, only humility opens the way to Christ. 
In consequence, as long as this recognition of insufficiency 
is absent, Christ cannot enter into a soul or into a world. 
The day that India raises its arms to the Liberator it will 
be able to open itself up to Him. But until such time, Its 
enormous riches are corrupted. India's riches are immense, 
but they are sealed by pride, because they do not open out 
upon the true Light. 

Thus, there is corruption in Buddhism, in Hinduism, 
in Islam. When we read the lives or the writings of the 
best among the Hindus Rama Krishna, for example 
or when we read the Koran, we notice, by the side of 
admirable insights, sudden puerilities which bear witness to 
something not altogether right or altogether pure. It 
is Satan's irony mocking those whom he has been able 
to dupe. This is what these peoples must cast off if they 
would come to Christ. 

Our conclusion, then, is that a full-fledged missionary 
spirituality must not see only the evil in other civilizations, 
nor be so unduly optimistic as to see only the good. It 
must be at once a spirituality of incarnation and a spiritu- 
ality of redemption. 

i . A spirituality of incarnation, first, in the sense that 
the first task is evidently to make Christianity incarnate 
in all that is good in these worlds in the thought of 
India, in the thought of China, in the thought of the 
African Negroes, just as it became incarnate in the Greek 


and Roman worlds. This is a vital aspect of our missionary 
task. We must understand these lands, espouse their 
cultures, and we cannot do this without genuine sympathy. 
That is why it is so important for missionary movements 
to keep in close contact with those who are studying and 
who understand these worlds. 

2. A spirituality of redemption* Our missionary 
mentality must not be naive. It must be realized that it 
is not solely by enlarging their scope that these souls will 
be brought to Christ, but also by renouncing themselves, 
by loving truth enough to recognize their own limitations 
and make an act of humility and of appeal to God, Who 
alone can bring us to Christ; and in consequence by con- 
fessing their faults and expiating them. 

What we must do in place of these souls that are not 
yet doing it, is to purify ourselves for those who are not 
purifying themselves, to offer ourselves up in expiation for 
their sins. This Is what Christ did for us, and He asks us 
to do it for others. After all, to understand Christ's 
teaching means to do for others what Christ first did for us. 
It means to know how to enter the fight that Anthony 
fought in the desert, that is, the spiritual fight, the combat 
of prayer, vigils and fasts, by means of which we can tear 
souls away from evil. If our missionary spirituality did 
not have this interior aspect, at once redemptive and 
expiatory, it would obviously be illusory, incomplete, 
superficial. It would not go to the heart of things. 



THE REFLECTIONS of this chapter will centre upon the 
theme of the Incarnation. It is important to speak of this, 
because the word "Incarnation" is one that we often use. 
We say that we must have an * 'incarnate" Christianity, 
that we do not make it incarnate enough, and that we react 
against a discarnate Christianity. Now, there are several 
points here to be clarified, for there must be no doubt as 
to what we mean, and the true meaning of c * Incarnation" 
can be distorted in several ways if we do not watch, 

Often, when we speak of making our Christianity 
incarnate, we stress that it must not remain sealed up, 
closed, wholly inward, that it must come into contact 
with the realities of the world and not remain apart from 
the society in which we live. If we went no further than 
that, we would be in real danger of misunderstanding the 
inward and mystical aspects of Christianity, and treating 
its efficient action upon civilization as primary. 

We sometimes reproach Christianity for not being 
effective enough, for not bringing about enough change 
in the world about us, and therefore for being inferior to 
other systems we see at work in the world. This criticism is 
valid. Beyond question, Christianity must become incar- 
nate in the sense that it must penetrate the real world in 
which we live, and that we must be concerned with its 
temporal efficacy. 

At the same time, we must not forget that this is merely 
the first step, that we must turn towards the world only 



In order to turn the world towards Christ, and that the 
Incarnation is the first stage of a process that is to reach 
fulfilment In the Transfiguration, that Is, In the penetration 
of the world by the light of Christ. If we tarry too long 
on the first stage, the process will remain incomplete. 
In Christ, we find both movements. He became man, 
and fully man, but in order to make us gods. With- 
out the second part, the first would make no sense 

Therefore, a spirituality of Incarnation is complete only 
if the Incarnation is the way to the Transfiguration, to 
deification. l There are also certain missionary implications 
of the question which are quite obvious, for the problem of 
the Incarnation has a very special bearing on the matter of 

First of all, let us state that Christ was completely a 
man. He experienced all our emotions. He burned with 
wrath against the traders in the temple. Let us not imagine 
that He pretended to be angry. When He was angry, He 
was genuinely angry, that is to say r His emotions were 
stirred. Likewise, when Our Lord loved, He did not make 
believe He loved; He truly loved those who were dear to 
Him. In this regard, we are often Docetists, to use the 
name of a heresy of the early Christian era which held that 
Our Lord pretended to be a man, that He took on the 
appearances of a man, but that His humanity was at bottom 
only an appearance, a mask, and that He remained a stranger 
to human nature. But, as the Fathers of the Church used 
to say, Our Lord was able to transform only that which 
He assumed. The Incarnation would not be real and 
humanity would not have been saved and transformed by 
grace, if Christ had not truly assumed human nature. If 

* Analogous views are to be found In a book by the Rev. Henri de Lubac, 
entitled Paradoxes, Paris, Editions du Livre Fran^ais, 1946, 123 pp. 


there were only the appearances of an Incarnation , then 
there would be only the appearances of salvation. 

Therefore, Our Lord must certainly have experienced 
these emotions. We see Him In violent anger against 
the traders in the temple, against the Pharisees whom He 
calls a "generation of vipers. s>1 Maurlac emphasized that 
aspect of Christ's personality in his Life of Jesus ^ he 
emphasized only that aspect, and that is one of the limita- 
tions of his book. But he was right in emphasizing it. 
Again, when Our Lord speaks of those who' scandalize 
children, we sense a real vibration of His emotions, a 
profound indignation. Our Lord was sensitive to sorrow, 
When He heard of the death of Lazarus, the Gospel tells 
us that He "groaned", a strange word that indicates a 
deeply troubled sensibility. Our Lord had pity: Misereor 
super turbam! When He saw throngs that were hungry, 
He had real pity for them. His heart was truly stirred. 
He felt genuine affection. Naturally, He loved His Mother 
deeply. He had friends, and in particular His true friends 
of Bethany, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, among whom He 
sought repose. 

Our Lord was more human than we, I would even say 
more human than we can hope to be. At times we are 
forced to harden ourselves against certain emotions, but 
that is because we are vulnerable. We must, for instance, 
harden ourselves against certain friendships, or fight off 
righteous anger, because in us righteous anger too easily 
degenerates into anger that is not righteous. Our emotions 
get so easily out of control that we must hold them in 
check. We are obliged to rein them in, not because they 
are evil but because they are not well balanced, and they 

1 Matthew, XXffl, 33. 

2 Mauriac, Frai^ois, Life of Jesus, translated by Julie Kernan, Longmans Green, 
1937, 261 pp. 


easily get out of bounds. The desire to hold our emotions 
in check sometimes leads us into the error of considering 
sensibility as such as evil, and of imagining that its syste- 
matic curbing is a forn\ of perfection. Now, we may often 
be reduced to such measures in order to regain equilibrium 
and thereby permit our sensibility to function without 
detriment to our souls. But this is only a last resort. 

In this connection, it might be pointed out that old 
saints are ordinarily more gracious than young ones, because 
the latter are still struggling against their imperious and 
tumultuous natures. These young saints often practice 
austerities so severe as to frighten us, for they are aware 
of the danger existing within themselves. For instance, 
they suppress all aesthetic pleasure because they realize 
how fragile they are, and fear aesthetic pleasures might fill 
them with a certain paganism that would lead them away 
from God, On the other hand, when their emotions 
are thoroughly purified, far from separating them from 
God, they are means of leading them to Him, as is the 
normal function of every creature. 

That is why Saint Francis of Assisi sang the " Canticle of 
the Sun' J : the sun led him to God. But let us not forget that 
Saint Francis of Assisi had received the stigmata on Mount 
Alverna shortly before. We must not sing the Canticle 
of the Sun too soon. That would be incarnation in the evil 
sense of the word. It would be believing too readily that 
we are strong enough to make all creatures lead us to God. 
Such a thing is possible only when we have first re-estab- 
lished an equilibrium within ourselves through purifi- 
cations, mortifications, and asceticism; but this asceticism, 
these mortifications and purifications are not an end in 
themselves, they are a way of redressing the balance of our 
perverted beings and of permitting them to come to true 
flowering in grace. Our Lord, in Whom there was no 


element perverted, since He, like the Blessed Virgin, was 
wholly free from original sin, could give full freedom to 
His sensibilities without their being in the slightest degree 
objectionable to God. That is why we can say that, far 
from being less human than we, He was able to be and 
actually was more human. 

I shall stress another aspect of this Incarnation which 
is of special concern to us here: namely, that Our Lord 
was unqualifiedly of His country and of His time. He 
was the little Galilean child Who went to the synagogue to 
listen to the Bible, Who was delighted when He heard the 
reading of Isaiah and when He listened to the scribes 
explaining all its beauties, because, as He was later to say: 
" Whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but 
according to their works do ye not." 1 It was permissible 
to listen to what they said. Their sin lay not in their words. 
They were excellent exegetes; but unfortunately they did 
not live comformably with their exegesis. 

Christ loved the liturgy of His country, the magnificent 
temple ritual. Aristeas, a writer of the third century 
before Christ, tells in a letter how dazzled he was at the 
sight of the high priest Eleazar advancing in his splendid 
vestments on the day of the Pasch. We can scarcely 
imagine the display on the great Jewish feast days, unfurled 
under a blazing sun, amidst gold, and marble and perfumes. 
It was a truly wondrous spectacle. Our Lord liked to pray 
in the temple. 

Thus, Our Lord was profoundly attached to His country, 
to His people's customs. In consequence, He suffered to 
think that the temple would be destroyed, that this life 
of Judaism would be annihilated. He wept over Jerusalem. 
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . if thou also hadst known, the 
things that are to thy peace! 7 ' Let us not suppose that 

1 Matthew, XXIII, 3. 


Our Lord accepted with joy in His heart that this whole 
world should be destroyed. Just as He suffered anguish at 
the thought of His own death although His own death 
was the condition of His Resurrection, likewise, He suffered 
anguish at the thought of the destruction of His own 
country, even though this destruction was the condition 
for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. 

It is indeed true that Judaism had to be abolished as 
such, so that all nations might enter into Christianity. 
But here again we must not picture Our Lord as being 
inhuman, or think for an instant that He rejected without 
suffering all that had once been the glory of His people. 
He suffered with the men who persecuted Him, with the 
Pharisees who refused to open their hearts and minds to 
His teaching. He knew why His message was difficult 
for them. They refused to make a sacrifice that was the 
condition of greater fruition. 

Thus, we see that Our Lord really assumed our humanity. 
But the humanity that He assumed was a fallen humanity. 
At the end of Mass we recite these words of Saint John: 
"Et Verbum caw factum est And the Word was made 
flesh." We must note that this word ' 'flesh/' "sarx" in 
Greek, does not mean body. In Greek, body is "soma." 
'* Flesh 1 * means humanity with all its limitations, its 
deficiencies, and its miseries. And if Saint John uses this 
word, it is in order to show that the humanity Christ chose 
to assume was a fallen humanity. Here the flesh is contrasted 
with the glorious humanity Christ was to assume later on. 
Christ had a right to this glorious humanity because He is 
without sin. What is known as the kenosis, that is, the 
annihilation of Our Lord, is the fact that He wanted His 
humanity to be deprived of the privileges that were His 
by right. 


Now we are at the heart of our problem. Christ assumed 
fallen humanity In order to transfigure it at the Resur- 
rection. He wished to take on the limitations of humanity, 
not in the least because these limitations had any value in 
themselves, but on the contrary in order to free humanity 
from its limitations and to transfigure it by permeating it 
with His own divine life. Christ assumed flesh, that is to 
say, He took on a humanity exactly like our own. As 
Saint Paul says, He assumed all of our attributes i& ab$que 
pccato except sin." As a result, He was made subject 
to all the limitations and all the miseries that characterize 
our human nature. 

We know, for example, that He had a body sensitive, 
exactly like our own, to pain, fatigue, thirst, and sleep. 
Nothing could be falser than to imagine Christ's humanity as 
exempt from all these miseries, or to make of Christ a kind 
of superman. Christ was not a superman in the sense that 
the moderns use the word to indicate a type of humanity 
representing an extraordinary evolution of the human 
species in terms of physical power or exceptional resistance 
to suffering. 

We know that Christ was vulnerable and this word 
is very important. He was sensitive to bodily pain, sensitive 
to the heart's suffering. This is one of the aspects of Christ's 
personality that the moderns cannot understand. I am 
thinking now particularly of the school of Nietzsche, of 
Nazism which derives from it to some extent, and also of 
such writers among the French as Henry de Montherlant. 
Of all the mysteries surrounding Christ, the most incom- 
prehensible to them is the mystery of the agony, that is, of 
Christ's depression in the face of death; because for them, 
the hero is the one who affronts death without flinching 
and without anguish. Christ was in this respect more 
human than the ideal of manhood we sometimes set up for 


ourselves. He believed that human greatness did not 
consist in hardening oneself against suffering. This is a 
truth we should never tire of meditating. 

Human: greatness does not consist in being insensible 
to one's own suffering or to that of others, or in being 
without pity. Nothing is farther removed from Christ 
and from Christianity than the hardness of heart that is 
sometimes preached to us. Therein lies no greatness. 
Greatness, in the eyes of Christ and of the Christian, lies 
in accepting suffering through love, while being fully 
sensitive to it. The second aspect of Christian greatness 
is reliance not on one's own strength but on the power of 
God, with the assurance that God will not permit us to 
suffer or to be tempted beyond our strength. That is why 
those heroes who represent a humanity straining in a 
superhuman effort to outdo itself seem far removed from 
us when we are subjected to temptation, whereas Christ 
is always close to us because He has experienced all our 

In this connection, we may note that the goal of non- 
Christian asceticisms is liberation from sensibility; and 
this has a direct bearing on the question of the Incarnation. 
All of these systems, including Stoic and Hindu asceticism, 
start from an opposition between body and spirit. Now, 
this is not the Christian point ofView. The Christian sees 
the opposition as between a balanced, transfigured humanity 
and a fallen humanity. He seeks to restore the complete 
man the complete man, body and soul. It is this com- 
plete manhood that Christ assumed and that must be 
saved. Therefore, the body, the sensibilities, are seen as 
creatures coming from the hands of God, creatures that 
are good but a little dangerous, and to be handled with 
caution: but this is necessary because of the unbalance 
within them and not because of any intrinsic evil. 


The wonderful thing about Christian saints Is that they 
are not beings of exceptional human stamp. They are 
fragile children. Consider Saint Therese of Lisieux and 
how many others! They are of the same human clay as 
we, but they have greater trust in God. Relying on Him 
and not on themselves, they are capable of facing all the 
difficulties on the path to sainthood. Here again the 
emphasis is on not relying on one's self. This is what gives 
Christian saintliness the exquisite cachet which it alone 
possesses: humility. Only Christian saintliness is humble, 
because the Christian saint does great things knowing that 
he is good for nothing, whereas the Stoic and the Hindu 
are too well aware that they are capable of doing difficult 
things, and they take full credit for their acts of heroism. 

There is a non- Christian heroism, but there is no non- 
Christian saintliness. There must be no confusion of 
values. There are no saints outside of Christianity, for 
saintliness is essentially a gift of God, a participation in 
His life, whereas heroism is on the human level. On the 
other hand, in all saintliness there must be a portion of 
heroism, because will-power and character always play a 
part, provided, of course, they are penetrated with grace 
and humility. 

What conclusion shall we draw from all this, from 
the missionary point of view? Just as Christ, in assuming 
human flesh, took on a particular form of humanity with 
all the limitations this entailed in space and time, just as 
He became a Jew of His period and of His country, like- 
wise in the course of its development, Christianity con- 
tinues to become incarnate in the successive civilizations 
and peoples that it encounters. That is why, immediately 
after the death of Christ, we see Jewish Apostles, a Paul 
and a Barnabas, going out to the pagans, casting off their 
Judaism, striving to think like Greeks and to express the 


Gospel in terms that could touch the souls of Greeks. 
Saint Paul speaks of the "conscience" as the Stoic philoso- 
pher might have spoken, and he explains that Christianity 
is a "mystery/" because that was the name then given to 
the pagan cult. He seeks to make the universal message 
of the Gospel incarnate In that particular civilization. 

This is of concern to the missionary from two points 
of view: The first is the need of genuine sympathy, of 
true cordiality towards the human values he encounters. 
It is the missionary's duty truly to love the peoples whom 
he is to serve, and to be able to view with benevolence 
customs, ways of thinking, forms of art that might at first 
seem strange to him, and even most disconcerting. 

It has been the error of certain missionaries to want 
to take their civilizations along with them, and to impose" 
on the peoples they were to evangelize their own way of 
seeing, their own artistic style. They may, for example, 
have wanted to erect Gothic cathedrals in China or force 
African Negroes to think according to Aristotle's cate- 
gories. No, that is not it at all! People must be taken as 
they are, and diverse types of mental structure must be 
allowed for. It is good, it is normal, that Christianity 
should become incarnate in these structures. 

Latin, for instance, poses a serious problem. We of the 
Western world don't know very much Latin, but at least 
it awakens certain echoes in our memories. But for an 
African Negro or a Chinese, imagine what it must mean to 
leam Latin! To use the vernacular wherever the Holy See 
allows will make the practice of the Faith easier to 
non-European peoples. There is a perfectly legitimate 
adaptation to make, and it must be made in the most cordial 
manner. I insist on this word "cordial. '* One may prefer 
Gothic art to that of the pagodas, but the style of the 
pagodas represents a certain artistic ideal; one must be 


capable at least of understanding its beauty. As for the 
art of the African Negro, it has been turned into a popular fad. 
It must, then, possess certain resources which can be put to 
use, and it is wholly normal that missionaries should accept it. 

Secondly, it must be added that this incarnation also 
involves renunciation and limitation. For Our Lord, assum- 
ing human nature did not consist only in taking on the 
greatest possible number of human attributes. (Viewed in 
that light, we would seem to be enriched if we became 
Chinese or African Negroes.) It also meant humiliating 
Himself, and taking on the form of a slave: ^Exinavit 
semetipsum He emptied Himself," 1 Our Lord did not 
cast off His divinity, but only the privileges attached to 
His divinity: He chose to take on the humanity of a certain 
epoch and at a specific time, with the limitations this 
entailed. Nothing could be further from the truth than 
to picture Him as concerning Himself with all the 
sciences and all the arts. The very idea is ridiculous. 
Our Lord's humanity was that of a man of the people in a 
land of inferior culture. The Greeks despised the Jews 
profoundly; and, in fact, they were at that period far more 
cultured than the Jews. Now, Jesus wanted to be one of 
these despised Jews. 

Therefore, he who desires to carry on Christ's work 
must undergo a far-reaching dispossession; he must 
renounce all the riches of his own culture, of his own 
civilization, and live in a milieju whose customs may often 
be strange and hard for him to accept. Without this self- 
annihilation the incarnation of the missionary would not 
follow in the footsteps of Christ. 

The Incarnation of Our Lord must be continued in the 
Church if She is to be a missionary and speak to all nations. 

1 Philippians, II, 7. 


But this is only a first step. The "katabasis," as the Greeks 
used to say, or the descent of Christ, the descensio, the 
annihilation by which He assumed the form of a slave when 
He came to us* is but the first step of a movement that must 
culminate in the "anabasis/ 5 the ascensio, by which the 
humanity that Christ assumed is transfigured. After He 
has drawn humanity up from its misery, He transforms it 
by the Divine life that is in Him, and thereby liberates 
it from its miseries from mortality, ignorance, and 
servitude making it the glorious humanity which is 
His goal. Thus, the Incarnation is seen to be not an 
end, but the means for the glorification and salvation of 

This is made very clear in Christ's own life. The 
mystery of the Incarnation and of the Passion is consum- 
mated in the mystery of the Resurrection and the Ascension. 
That is to say, Our Lord assumed humanity in order to 
penetrate it with divine life. Just as we have insisted on 
the truth of Christ's humanity, likewise we must insist 
on the truth of His divinity. Just as it would be an error 
to misjudge Christ's humanity and to think He merely 
pretended to be a man, it would be equally wrong to mis- 
judge His divinity and to look upon Him purely and simply 
as a great human figure. 

I shall not go into all the passages of the Gospel that 
manifest Christ's divinity, but a few passages are especially 
important in this connection. I am thinking of Christ's 
baptism, which was really an Epiphany of His divinity 
inasmuch as the Father recognized Him as His Son through 
a voice coming from heaven and through the Holy Ghost's 
resting on Him. The early Christians well understood this 
manifestation of Christ's divinity. They made Christ's 
baptism the prototype of Christian baptism, signifying 
their deification. I am also thinking 6f the feast of the 


Transfiguration, so dear to Orthodox Christians , in which 
Christ s s glory was so dazzling. 

Since we are talking about the Transfiguration and about 
the devotion Orthodox Christians have for this feast , 
I might remark that this glorious aspect of Christ is very 
dear to the Orientals for whom Christ is the Kyrios, the 
Lord of glory. Their piety is focused altogether on the 
glorious mysteries and on a participation in the celestial 
liturgy that Christ continues eternally in Heaven, semper 
interpellans pro nobis. This is of interest with respect to 
the contact of Western Christians with Orientals and 
Russians. We sometimes shock them by the way we unduly 
humanize Christ, as if He were no more than a noble 
human ideal. 

What we call Christian values, Christian civilization, 
and the ideal of the Gospel, often correspond to a primarily 
human and moral point of view. We are inclined to dis- 
regard what there is of mystery in Christ and the presence 
of God in Him, with all that this involves in the way of 
adoration, cult and liturgy. It is possible to err in this 
direction. Such a conception of Christ has been held by 
many intellectual rationalists since Renan, and by Protestant 
liberals like Harnack. Guignebert's Jesus 1 is characteristic 
of this tendency to bring Christ down to the pro- 
portions of a great Prophet, on a level with Buddha and 

Such a point of view comes close to that of the Hinduists 
and in general of the syncretists, who see in Christ a great 
personage perhaps the greatest but still one among 
other personages of the same order. This gives them the 
appearance of respecting Jesus. Indeed, today many men 
speak of Christ, of the admiration they have for Him, of the 

1 Charles A. H. Guignebert, Jfsas, Paris, La Renaissance du Livre, 1933, 
692 pp. 


veneration in which they hold Him; but the Christ they 
speak of Is only the One Who preached the first part of the 
Sermon on the Mount, and not the One Who rose from the 

That amounts to recognizing only Christ as He lived on 
earth and disregarding Christ as head of the Mystical Body. 
In consequence , it means forgetting Christ's primary 
achievement, which consists in having divinized humanity 
and thereby having introduced it into the mystery of God. 
That amounts to suppressing all the transcendance, all the 
supernatural, all the mystery in Christianity. Karl Adam, 
in his book Christ Our Brother, 1 calls this "jesuanism," that 
is, a distortion that suppresses Christ the Lord, and stresses 
only the human character of Jesus ; that sees in Him only a 
Prophet, "the most illustrious of the dead of the past," 
but not "the most living of our contemporaries"; a 
master of wisdom who lived in Galilee twenty centuries 
ago and who preached the most beautiful of all messages, 
but not the Christ of "yesterday, and today, and the same 
forever," 2 as Saint Paul says: in other words, not the 
"living Christ" Who is our king today, and with Whom 
we commune through the sacraments, through prayer, 
and through the Church. * 

Now, the purpose of the Incarnation is to bring about, 
by reason of the union of divinity and humanity in Christ's 
person, the transfiguration of our nature, through which we 
are made participants in the divine life and liberated from 
what Saint Bernard calls its miser ia, that is, not only sin 
but also all the consequences of sin, all that is wretched in 
our present being, all limitations such as death, sickness, 
suffering, vagaries, perversions, unbalance. Christ is even 

1 Karl Adam, Christ Our Brother, trans, by Dom Justin McCann, O.S.B., New 
York* Macmillan Co., 1931, 210 pp. 

2 Hebrews, XIII, 8. 


at this moment bringing this transformation about IE 

Now, as we have said, a Christian must be fully incar- 
nated in his country, his time; and the missionary must 
become an African Negro among African Negroes, a Hindu 
among Hindus, just as Saint Paul was a Jew among Jews, 
and a Greek among Greeks. However, at the same time, 
a Christian, because Christ is already acting through him, 
is emancipated from all these limitations and, while he 
continues to belong to a certain epoch and to a certain 
country, he is a man of every epoch and of every country. 
He is a Catholic, that is, his humanity reaches out beyond 
all particularisms because he already belongs to a humanity 
glorified in Christ, and this transfigured humanity trans- 
cends all frontiers. 

The paradox of the Christian's position in the world 
often proves to be this twofold aspect of incarnation and 
transfiguration: he is at once an incarnate being and a 
transfigured being. While a Frenchman must be French 
to the tips of his fingers and have the reactions normal to 
Frenchmen and if he didn't his incarnation would be 
diminished he must, if he is a Catholic, also be universal, 
and embrace all men in his love. 

Bergson used to say that the fraternity of all men is a 
wholly religious reality. This universal fraternity exists 
because Christ's humanity is permeated with divine life. 
The paradox of our existence is that we also belong to a 
particular country, that we are at once limited beings 
and universal beings. This was the drama of Christ Him- 
self, Who was unreservedly a Jew and yet Who died for 
all men. Indeed, He was obliged to sacrifice not without 
suffering His attachment to His past in order to accom- 
plish His mission. We too shall at times be obliged to 
make such sacrifices. This is especially true of a missionary 


who leaves his native land. He would be remiss were he 
not to suffer. 

This transfiguration is already becoming a reality, and 
the humanity to which we belong in Christ is already 
entering its glory through the life of the sacraments, which 
makes us divine even now, transforms our hearts by enlarg- 
ing their capacity to the measure of Christ's, transfigures 
our very bodies by beginning to free them of their bondage, 
by making them capable, in poverty, in chastity, in charity, 
of a purity, of an integrity that are beyond the strength 
of men. And all these things are the result of the action 
in us of the glorious Christ, Who releases us from our 
frailty. Naturally, this will be accomplished in its plenitude 
only in glory, when we shall be completely united to the 
life of Christ. 

Let us relate this second aspect to the life of the 
missionary. We stated earlier that Christianity must 
become incarnate among different civilizations and different 
cultures. In the same way, it must transfigure them, and 
it is in order to transfigure them that it must become 
incarnate in them. It sets up no absolutes: it is aware of 
their limitations, and if it none the less adopts them out 
of love, it does so with open eyes and without any foolish 
idealization. From this point of view the missionary's 
position is hazardous and delicate, for he must be unusually 
discerning to distinguish the tares from the good grain, 
to disentangle what is good in a civilization and can be 
adopted, from what is perverted and must be rejected. 

This is a danger even for us who would study Buddhism 
or Communism or Islamism. Ours must be incorruptible 
souls to be able to traffic with them without being con- 
taminated. And indeed it is* the attribute of a very pure 
soul that it can retain all that is good and throw off all 
that is evil in the things it touches. This requires exquisite 


tact and cc the mind of Christ/ 1 as Saint Paul says: 
Christ! habemus. l Then, once we are truly filled with Christ, 
we can go anywhere without being contaminated. Christ 
can associate with anybody at all; we, as yet, cannot do 
so, for too often others would leave their imprint upon 
us. Here lies the mystery as well as the danger of the 
apostolate and of all missionary activity. 

Our vocation is to go out among others ; we must not 
retire within our shell. We must become one of them, 
but we must without question avoid being contaminated 
by our contact with them. All is lost if, when we go out 
among them, we become like them, instead of their becom- 
ing like us. In such cases, there is an incarnation; but 
without a transfiguration it is worthless. That is why 
the Incarnation can be equivocal. It has value only insofar 
as it is consummated in the Transfiguration, and insofar as, 
when we go out among others, we know exactly how to 
help them extirpate what in them is evil and cannot be 
transfigured, meanwhile preserving everything that can be 
saved. Missionary action consists in discerning all that is 
good in civilizations and cultures, so as to permeate them 
with Christianity and offer them up to Christ; meanwhile 
discerning all that is false, so that it may be eliminated 
and rejected. 

1 i Corinthians, II, 16. 



IN THIS chapter I shall attempt to place the missionary 
problem within the framework of a Christian view of 
history. In our time, more and more problems are thought 
out in terms of historical perspective. Having a longer 
range of vision and more extensive scientific knowledge 
than did men of a century ago, we can delve into the past 
of the earth far more deeply than they could. We now 
know the history of primitive humanity and even the pre- 
history of man. The most remote past of the world takes 
shape for present-day minds. Furthermore, now that 
human history has been more fully unfolded, we can better 
distinguish its periods and developments. These views have 
a strong bearing on our over-all conception of the world. 

The great difference between the seventeenth century 
and the present is that the men of the seventeenth century 
viewed everything in terms of the individual. For the men 
of that time, the great problem was that of grace and of 
liberty: Shall I be saved? How shall I be saved? What is 
the role of liberty and what of grace in my personal 
salvation? Now, this perspective no longer satisfies our 
contemporaries. They are concerned far less with in- 
dividual salvation than with the salvation of the world, 
the development of the Mystical Body and the fulfilment 
of God's plan by the whole human race. 

This historical point of view characterizes the great 
ideas of the world in which we live. We can cite, as two 
examples of this, Marxist thought and Nietzschean thought. 



The Marxists conceive of history as a development through 
which man progressively transforms himself by transform- 
ing the material conditions of his life* That is perhaps the 
most concise definition we can give of Marxist thought. 
Here indeed we find the idea of transforming man s but 
depending entirely upon the transformation of material 
conditions. By material means, man is to attain a certain 
liberation with respect to the cosmic forces or the social 
forces that overwhelm him, and thus achieve a kind of 
earthly paradise. And, at the utmost, he may even hold 
off death. Friedmann, in a book entitled la Crise dm 
Progres, 1 visualizes as the goal of science, if not the abolition 
of death at least the extension of the dimensions of human 
life. This perspective is not without grandeur, but in 
some respects it is unsatisfying, because there is little 
cause for exaltation in the prospect of indefinitely pro- 
longing existence under present conditions. What we long 
for is life. No one wants to die. But to prolong without 
end a life, in which we know nothing better can happen , 
that is literally hell, and has nothing in common with the 
Christian ideal of eternal life. 

The Germanic conception, expressed in Spengler's 
Decline of the West, is somewhat different. Spengler con- 
ceives of history as a succession of great civilizations which, 
like biological realities, have a beginning, a zenith, and 
come to a catastrophic close. Then, other civilizations 
appear, without any continuity or anything that may 
properly be called progress. There once existed an 
Assyrian civilization of which we know little, then an 
Egyptian civilization, and later a Greek civilization. After 
each of these civilizations there was a catastrophe, a Middle 
Age, when a great portion of the progress previously 
attained was lost. In the eyes of this author we have 

1 Georges Friedmann, La Crise du Trogrh, Paris, Gallimard, 1936, 284 pp. 


reached the decline of the West, we shall soon eater 
another Middle Age, and afterward there will be another 
civilization, a new world which we cannot even conceive. l 

These examples we might cite others, such as Bergson's 
concept- show us how worth while It is for us to think 
out our Christianity in historic perspective. 2 It is evident 
that it is here that Christianity comes closest to satisfying 
the exigencies of contemporary minds. As Father de 
Montcheuil used to say, Christianity need not adapt itself 
to successive philosophies, but it must take into account 
the spiritual experiences from which these philosophies 
are bom. This is very true. For example, we need not 
at all adapt ourselves to Marxism, but we must take into 
account the spiritual experience from which Marxism was 
bom. And precisely because we believe that our 
Christianity must be the true answer to this spiritual 
experience, we must present it in a form that can satisfy 
those exigencies. Hence, our interest in Christianity as a 
religion that takes history into account, and, more specifi- 
cally, our interest in the precise place of missionary 
thought and missionary action in the Christian historic 

The remarkable thing is that not only is Christianity a 
religion that gives history its due, but it is the only religion 
that conceives things historically in the strict sense of the 
word, in that Christianity is the only religion that grasps 
the meaning of history. The other religions, for the most 
part, view time, the order of reality in which history 
unfolds, as a degradation with respect to eternity, which 

1 Translator's note: Spengler intimated that Russia might be a new and bud- 
ding civilization. See: The Decline of the West, Alfred A. Knopf, 1932, i vol. 

2 Efforts in this direction include Henri de Lubac's Catholicisms, Ed. du Cerf ; 
Christopher Dawson's Progress and Religion, London, Sheed & Ward, 1929, 254 pp. 
Jean Danie"Iou's Le Signe du Temple, Gallimard. 


they hold to be the only genuine reality; they consider 
being, in the full sense of the word, as exempt from change, 
progress^ and evolution. For them, time is nothing but a 
mirror, a degraded reflection of eternity. We find this 
very marked in Platonic thought and in all that derives 
from it. It is also very characteristic of Hindu thought. 
For Hinduism, and even more for Buddhism, time repre- 
sents multiplicity, division, dispersion, whereas what truly 
exists is unity. 

The purpose of Buddhist asceticism is to escape from 
time, from multiplicity, in order to achieve interior unity* 
which is held to be divine. The Buddhist believes that 
when he has completed his initiation he has already 
become immortal, that he has conquered time, that he has 
been liberated from it, and that he is plunging into the 
eternity of Being. This is true at least of primitive Budd- 
hism, and in general of the forms of Buddhism that lay 
greatest stress on asceticism. 

In addition, a mythology has been developed that is 
called Buddhology and looks upon Buddha not only as a 
master of wisdom but as a metaphysical reality, a supreme 
Being in whose life we are to participate. This Buddhology, 
which is most highly developed in the branch of Buddhism 
called Amidism, is prevalent in Japan. It is to be dis- 
tinguished from the Buddhism of Tibet, which is more 
ascetic in character. Buddhology has a certain conception 
of history: it holds that there is a series of successive 
Buddhas who are, as it were, so many Messiahs, bringing 
humanity little by little toward an increasingly happy 
destiny. Buddha is considered to be one of these appari- 
tions, and Amida another; and still another figure is 
awaited in future times who will be a new incarnation of 
Buddha and who will bring new progress. Here too is a 
certain historical vision. 


Elsewhere, In several other religions I am thinking 
particularly of the ancient religions of Persia we find a 
different conception of history. These religions conceive 
of time as having direction. (By direction I mean that it is a 
reality that develops organically, whereas in Buddhist 
and Platonic thought time has neither beginning nor end, 
and one must ever strive to be liberated from it because 
it is pure absurdity.) They conceive of history as develop- 
ing over a given period of time , then a catastrophe befalls, 
a general conflagration: the world is set on fire and is 
consumed ; then everything starts over again, going through 
the same development and culminating in a second catas- 
trophe. That is the doctrine of eternal renewal. It was 
adopted by certain Greek philosophers, and more recently 
by Nietzsche. 

This is not an etemization of our life on earth, but a 
series of successive lives, each exactly alike, in which we 
would be obliged unendingly to go through everything 
that we have lived before. The frightful thing about these 
conceptions of history is the ennui they engender, the 
lassitude in the face of a cycle that starts over and over 
indefinitely and from which there is no escape. Now, if 
there is a fundamental human need, it is that there should 
be a final outcome, that life should have meaning, and that 
this meaning should be realized in the end. Even the 
noblest of these conceptions have not succeeded in 
reaching such a conclusion, either by escaping from time 
or by abandoning the world to its unhappy fate. Besides, 
from the Buddhist viewpoint, one is never certain of being 
definitely liberated from time, even after having eluded it. 

Now, in contrast to these doctrines, the Bible has a 
totally different perspective. In the Bible, history is the 
realization of God's plan, having a beginning, a middle, 
and an end. Within the framework of time and by means 


of time, God accomplishes a definite task in successive 
stages, according to His own plan. This point of view 
recurs often in the Old Testament: much is said about 
"the day of Yahweh," or "the day' 9 on which the world 
will come to an end. Our Lord also makes use of this 
vocabulary in the Gospel. He uses this mysterious expres- 
sion: "My hour is not yet come/' 1 or "This is not 
my hour," or again "This is your hour and the power of 
darkness.' * 2 All this demonstrates the existence of a plan 
established by God in which everything happens at its 
appointed hour. 

History now takes on consistency and meaning. It 
ceases to be pure multiplicity and dispersion and becomes 
a coherent reality, ordered towards an end, a creation of 
God. Biblical thought gives expression to this view of 
history from the moment it becomes self-aware, that is, 
from the time of Abraham, in anticipation of the accom- 
plishment by God of His design. God promised Abraham 
and this is the Covenant that in him all nations would be 
blessed and that his descendants would possess the land of 

Thereafter, the history of Israel is a series of events by 
which God's plan is accomplished. The promise made to 
Abraham about 1800 B.C. was accomplished about 1200 
B.C., when Joshua entered the promised land and the Jews 
settled on it. But this first realization did not exhaust the 
substance of the promise. That is why, throughout Jewish 
history, there persists the expectation of the definitive 
coming of the Kingdom of God. That is what the word 
"eschatology* * means. Eschatology is the science, the 
"logos" of the "eschaton," that is, of the end. Eschato- 
logy pervades all of Jewish history, and only Jewish 
history. This is what is absolutely unique about the Jewish 

ijo&n,n,4. * Ink, XXII, 3 . 


people ? from the purely ethnological point of view. In 
fact 9 one can say that only the Jewish people have a real 

This expectation Inspired the preaching of the Prophets. 
Toward the time of Christ it had taken on an almost 
feverish intensity, which was manifest in all the apocalyptic 
literature of that period in which details of the end of the 
world were given. These events are to be characterized, 
first of ally by the great assembling in Jerusalem of all men, 
Jews first, and then the others , an assembling that neces- 
sarily implies the resurrection; because in order for all 
men to assemble , the dead must rise again. Then the Son 
of man will come. That is the term used in the Apocalypses 
and it is the one by which Our Lord always designated 
Himself. The expression "Son of man" appears seventy 
times in the Gospels, and each time uttered by Christ, never 
by any other. 

The primary work that the Son of man is to accomplish 
is what the Apocalypses call judgment, that is, the discern- 
ment of the good and the wicked, the annihilation of evil 
powers and the rewarding of the just. The forces of evil 
are, first of all, demoniacal powers and then temporal 
powers, the great empires that one after the other have 
crushed Israel in the course of history and whose destruc- 
tion Israel has always been awaiting. 

This judgment is to be followed by the establishment of 
the Kingdom of God, conceived by the Jews of that period 
under two different aspects. On the one hand, they 
visualized it as an earthly kingdom, holy and free from all 
sin, governed by a Messianic king. This would be accom- 
panied by a return of sorts to the conditions of Eden, in 
that the prosperity and fecundity of the earth would be 
very great. The other view was that judgment would 
consist in the annihilation of the existing world and its 


supersession by "the new age/" a. totally different world 
where all the friends of God would be gathered close to 
Him in a mysterious and eternal life. 

Now, all these eschatoiogical realities , awaited from 
all time by the Jews, were accomplished by Our Lord. 
He declared Himself to be the Son of man Whom David 
foretold. "He that belie veth not is already judged** 
(John, III, 1 8); "he is passed from death to life' 1 (John, V, 
24); "he hath life everlasting" (John, V, 24); "the hour 
. . . now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son 
of God, and . . shall live" (John, V, 25-). All this was 
brought about through the mysterious events of His 
Incarnation, His Passion, His Resurrection, and finally 
His Ascension, by which, according to the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, humanity was introduced once and for all into 
the sphere of God. I lay stress on the words "once and 
for all" because they are of capital importance for the 
Christian philosophy of history. 

The Ascension represents an extraordinary event in .the 
history of the world because through it humanity was once 
and for all eternity united to the life of God and introduced 
by Christ into the sphere of God : * 'Hapax, once and for all, * * 
absolutely "irreversibly /' to use an expression currently 
in favour among philosophers for defining the meaning of 
time. There can be no turning back, and humanity can 
never again be separated from God. It has entered into 
His intimacy definitely and for all eternity. We have been 
saved in Christ. Therefore, salvation is for us no longer 
merely a hope; it is a reality we already possess. We 
possess divine life, and the fulness of time has come with 

Yet, when we consider ourselves and the human beings 
around us, we are struck by a contrary vision, by all that 
remains in us of misery and sin, and by the slight difference 


there often seems to be between Christians and non- 
Christians. We are astonished that this salvation acquired 
through Christ is manifested so little. It was so for the 
first Christians, too. While they were fully convinced 
that from the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost 
came down upon them they had divine life, still they were 
conscious of what they lacked; they realized especially 
that they were not yet risen again. They could say with 
Saint Paul, "Con-surreristis cum Christo In (Christ) also 
you are risen again/' 1 Yet they knew that this resur- 
rection in which we participate through grace is not yet 
manifest in our bodies. According to Saint John, "We 
are now the sons of God/' "Mine" is analogous to the 
"Jiapflj" we spoke of earlier. "And it hath not yet 
appeared what we shall be/' 2 Something, then, has been 
acquired, yet this first acquisition is far from ultimate 
fulfilment. But we know that at the time of this final 
manifestation, of this Apocalypse, "we shall be like to 
him: because we shall see him as he is/' 3 

Thus, the first Christians, although they had realized 
all that had already been acquired for them, awaited Christ's 
return from heaven (where He had gone on the Ascension) 
by an event that they called the parousia or adventus, the 
second coming of Christ to gather all the friends of God 
into the father's house. "I go to prepare a place for you," 
Christ says in the Gospel of Saint John. "I will come 
again, and will take you to myself ... a little while and 
you shall not see me, and again a little while, and you shall 
see me/' 4 

We should note that they thought Our Lord meant His 
return to be imminent: "Amen I say to you, there, are 
some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death 

1 Colossians, II, 12. a i John, HI, 2. 

i John, HI, 2. *John, XIV, 2-3 ; XVI, 16. 


till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom," 1 
There is a sense of urgency in certain of Saint Paul's 
Epistles, especialy in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians 
where the Apostle gives a most vivid picture of what 
will happen when Christ returns: "For if we believe 
that Jesus died, and rose again; even so them who have 
slept through Jesus will God bring with him. For this we 
say unto you in the word of the Lord, that we who are 
alive, who remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall 
not go before them who have slept (that is to say, the dead)* 
For (when the signal is given this is thoroughly biblical 
language) the Lord himself shall come down from heaven 
with commandment (that is the Second Coming), and with 
the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God: 
and the dead who are in Christ shall rise first. Then, we 
who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together 
with them in the clouds to meet Christ, in the air, and so 
we shall be always with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort 
ye one another with these words." 2 

Do we seem to have wandered far afield from the 
missionary problem? We are coming back to it. The 
Lord is to return soon. He will surely return. But there 
is some delay, "moram Jadente sponso" as in the parable 
of the wise and the foolish virgins. The foolish virgins 
and the wise virgins lived in expectation, and that is just 
what the first Christians did: they were awaiting the return 
of the Bridegroom, Who had gone to celebrate His wed- 
ding, the eternal marriage of the Lamb to the Church. 
As Gregory of Nyssa pictures it, He entered paradise, 
bringing with Him his bride, Humanity, whom He had 
just wedded on the Cross. He introduced her into the 
house of His Father. Then He was to come back for all 
the members of His mystical body and introduce them into 

1 Matthew, XVI, 28. 2 i ThtssalonianSi IV, 13-17. 


the joy of His glory. Now, there seems to be some delay. 
Why? What is going on? 

If there is a delay, it is because there is an obstacle in 
the way, preventing the events of the end of time from 
coming to pass. In his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, 
Saint Paul, in answer to questions that had been raised 
in Thessalonia, seemed to say that the Lord would return 
soon* and they should go before Him and enter into His 
glory. As a result, the Thessalonians, taking the Apostle's 
teaching literally, sat around doing nothing, and were 
content to await the coming of the Lord. That is the real 
meaning of the primitive Christian vigils: they wanted to 
be watching when Christ came. Our Lord had said: 
You must watch all night, for no one knows if the Master 
will come at the third, the sixth, or the ninth hour, and 
the Lord must find the servant watching. The first 
Christians had taken these words literally and they watched 
in relays so as not to miss the coming of the Lord. 

Evidently, there were certain inconveniences to this 
procedure', and it could easily upset life's regular routines. 
So Saint Paul felt obliged to give more specific instructions 
|n his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians: "And we 
beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and of our gathering together with him: That you 
be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, 
neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent 
from us, as if the day of the Lord wera at hand." * 

Then he repeated what he had said the first time: "Let 
no man deceive you by any means, for . . . there (will) 
come a revolt (before the coming of the Lord), and the 
man of sin (will) be revealed, and the son of perdition, 
who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, 
or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of 

1 2 Thessalonians, II, i-2. 


God, shewing himself as if he were God." 1 "Son of 
perdition" Is a mysterious term. We do not know whether 
It Is collective or individual. It represents the deification 
of man by himself. "Remember you not, that when 
I was yet with you, I told you these things." 2 We have 
no way of knowing what Saint Paul might have told them. 
"And now (this Is the crux of the matter) you know what 
withholdethy that he may be revealed in his time." 9 There 
is, then, something that withholds, that stands In the way, 
that delays. This is a very mysterious passage, and one on 
which exegetes have written many commentaries. It 
has been thought that the Roman Empire was what opposed 
Christ at that time. But that is not a very satisfactory 
solution, since the obstacle in question is opposed to the 
coming of anti-Christ, who is to come first. 

Light is shed on this text by a passage from Saint 
Matthew's eschatological discourse in Chapter XXIV. 4 
(Now we are at the heart of our subject. ) Our Lord tells 
of the happenings of the end of the world, making answer 
to His Apostles who ask Him: "Tell us when shall these 
things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, 
and of the consummation of the world?" Christ answers; 
"Take heed that no man seduce you." 5 He indicates 
that there will be wars between nations, kingdoms against 
kingdoms, and pestilences. "Now all these are the 
beginning of sorrows . . . and many false prophets shall 
rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath 
abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. But he 
that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved. And this 

1 2 Thestolonians, II, 3-4. 

2 2 ThessaloruanSf H, $ 

3 2 Thessaloniam, II, 6. 

4 TTie following material is in great part derived from O. Cullman*s article on 
Le Caract&re Esehatologique du Devoir Ms&onaire et la Conscience Apostolique de Saint 
Paul, Rev. Hist. Phil, relig., 1936, p. 210 ff. 

6 Matthew, XXIV, 3-4. 


Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached In the whole 
world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the 
consummation come. 1 

This is the vital passage which sheds light on the text 
from the Epistle to' the Thessalonlans. In order for the 
end to come, that is, in order that the Second Coming of 
the Lord be manifested, and that the Lord return to gather 
up His own, a certain condition must be fulfilled, and as 
long as it is not fulfilled, the Lord cannot return in His 
glory. This condition is that the Gospel be preached to 
all nations. This sheds great light on the fundamental 
nature of the mission, of evangelization: it is the great 
reality of the present-day world, and the essential con- 
dition for the accomplishment of the Second Coming, for 
which all Christians yearn. The first Christians lived in 
expectation of it, and we, too, must continue to do so. 
They lived in expectation of Christ's coming in glory to 
establish His Kingdom for all eternity. That is the ultimate 
goal of Christian hope, of which we see only the begin- 
nings at the present time. Now, in order that this may 
come about, in order that our hope may attain its goal, 
there is only one condition, but it is indispensable: The 
Gospel must have been preached to all the nations of the 
world, to the entire universe. 

Several other New Testament texts are illuminated in 
this light, for example, the beginning of the Acts of the 
Apostles. After the Resurrection, the Apostles ask the 
Lord: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the 
kingdom of Israel ?" That is what preoccupies them. When 
will the Messianic kingdom be definitively established? 
And the Lord answers them: "It is not for you to know 
the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his 
own power. But you shall receive the power of the Holy 

1 Matthew, XXIV, 8-14. 


Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto 
me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, even 
to the uttermost part of the earth." 1 Thus, the Apostles 
need not know the time; They need only to know one 
thing, that they are to carry the word of the Lord to the 
uttermost part of the earth. Herein lies the totality of 
Christian life until the Second Coming. The Gospel must 
be preached to all nations, and then the Lord can establish 
His Kingdom. 

This throws light on another profoundly mysterious 
text, namely, the celebrated passage of the four horsemen 
in Chapter VI of the Apocalypse: "And I saw that the 
Lamb had opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one 
of the four living creatures, as it were the voice of thunder, 
saying: Come, and see. And I saw: and behold a white 
horse, and he that sat on him had a bow, and there was a 
crown given him, and he went forth conquering that he 
might conquer. And when he had opened the second 
seal, I heard the second living creature, saying: Come, and 
see. And there went out another horse that was red: 
and to him that sat thereon, it was given that he should 
take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one 
another, and a great sword was given to him . . And 
behold a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of 
scales in his hand. . . . And behold a pale horse, and he 
that sat upon him, his name was Death, and hell followed 
him. And power was given to him over the four parts of 
the earth, to kill with the sword, with famine, and with 
death, and with the beasts of the earth." 2 

These four horses differ considerably from one another: 
the last three represent the calamities of the end of the 
world, which Our Lord and Saint Paul tell us will precede 
the Second Coming. But before these three horses, there 

1 Acts of the Apostles, I, 6-8. 2 Apocalypse, VI, 1-8. 


is the white horse who is to go on his triumphant way all 
over the world. We learn this horse's name in Chapter 
X3X of the Apocalypse: "And I saw heaven opened, and 
behold a white horse : and he that sat upon him was called 
faithful and true, and with justice doth he judge and fight. 
And his eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were 
many diadems, and he had a name written, which no man 
knoweth but himself. And he was clothed with a garment 
sprinkled with blood ; and his name is called, THE WORD 
OF GOD." 1 This white horse, therefore, is the Word 
of God, it is the Gospel of God that is to make its trium- 
phant way around the world before the happenings of the 
end can come to pass. 

These passages prove to us that Saint Paul, first of all, 
and the whole body of early Christians afterwards, believed 
the reason for this delay, this "niora" which astonished 
them and which they came to understand only by degrees 
was the necessity of evangelizing the entire world and of 
the acceptance of God's message by all nations before the 
Second Coming. But they thought it would come about 
much more rapidly. On this point, God's plan was a 
mystery to them. Saint Paul believed that in a man's 
lifetime he, the Apostle of the nations, would be able to 
convert the entire world and thus bring all men together 
in Christ ; and that as the culmination of all this he would 
see the Lord coming in the clouds to judge all nations. 
This explains the tragedy of his missionary efforts, the 
breathless haste which dashed him on all the shores of the 
world, the fever which consumed him and whose full 
meaning is clear only when one grasps the eschatological 
nature of his mission. 

After those first days, God's plan unfolded in its mystery 
by slow degrees. It became evident that this was a work 

1 Apocalypse ', XIX, 11-13. 


that would take great patience* and that the delay would 
be much longer than had at first been thought; the 

gradual entrance of the nations into the Church one after 
another would take many centuries. There was danger, 
obviously, that the vigil mentioned above might be relaxed, 
and that after having waited so many nights Christians 
might in the end cease to focus the attention of their souls 
on the Second Coming, To the extent that Christians 
have relaxed their vigil they have been unfaithful to God's 
call, for it is characteristic of the Christian economy always 
to consider the Second Coming as imminent , and to stress 
the need ever to have our hearts inwardly oriented toward 
the definitive meeting of all humanity with the Bridegroom, 
Christianity is also characterized by immense patience, 
as the Fathers of the Church are ever reminding us, through 
which we must bear unflinchingly without discouragement, 
with hope unflagging, all delays, all disappointments, all 
obstacles, with hope ever burning in our hearts. 

This philosophy of history, or rather this theology of 
history, was clarified by Saint Paul in connection with a 
very interesting point in the Epistle to the Romans, a point 
that relates to one of the great Christian mysteries of 
history, the mystery of Judaism. There can be no doubt 
that the Jewish problem is fundamentally a theological 
problem. On this, we are unalterably opposed to racism, 
which considers it a biological problem. For us, the Jews 
are not at all inferior biologically, but their race is marked 
by a mysterious theological destiny. And that is why 
the Jewish race remains such a problem in the community 
of nations. 

Concerning this mystery of the historic meaning of 
Judaism and of its relation to eschatology, Saint Paul, 
in the Epistle to the Romans, expressed himself in a remark- 
able manner. The Jews rejected the Messiah. That is 


indeed strange. This had lived for centuries in 

expectation of the Messiah, and when the Messiah did come, 
they crucified Him* "Have they so stumbled that they 
should fall?" Saint Paul asks. "God forbid. But by their 
offence* salvation is come to the Gentiles." 1 These views 
on history are truly unfathomable. 

The apostasy of the Jewish people is in some obscure 
way within God*s plan. Saint Paul does not presuppose 
the-condemnation of the Jews, for this apostasy might have 
been committed in good faith by practically the entire 
Jewish people, inasmuch as they did not recognize the 
Messiah. "Salvation is come to the Gentiles, that they may 
be emulous of them. Now, if the offence of them be the 
riches of the world, and the diminution of them, the riches 
of the Gentiles ; how much more the fulness of them?*' 2 

This extraordinary text suggests that the plenitude of 
the Jewish people's vocation will become manifest only 
at the end of time. "For I say to you, Gentiles: as long 
indeed as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I will honour my 
ministry. If, by any means, I may provoke to emulation 
them who are my flesh and may save some of them. For 
if the loss of them be the reconciliation of the world, what 
shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" 8 
Thus, there is a relationship between the reintegration of 
the Jews and the resurrection of the dead, that is, the 
Second Coming, the end of the world. And Saint Paul 
continues: ". . . blindness in part has happened in 
Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. 
And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There 
shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver." 4 

Therefore Saint Paul knew that the salvation of Israel, 
of his brothers whom he loved passionately, was linked 

1 Romans, XI, n. 2 Romans, XI, n-i2. 

3 Romans, XI, 13-15:. * Romans, XI, 25-26. 


to the conversion of the Gentiles, Many consequences 
flowed from this. Here was a second reason why the 
conversion of the Gentiles appeared to be so urgent in 
his eyes: he knew that the Jews would be saved only after 
the mass of the Gentiles had been gathered in. This was 
one of the great mysteries of His Revelation that the Lord 
had made known to him. But, here again, Paul thought 
this could all be accomplished within the span of a man's 
life, and that the conversion of the Jews could come to 
pass during his own lifetime . . 

The conversion of the Jews has remained in abeyance 
ever since. For what reason? It remains in abeyance 
because of the missionary question. We know that the 
Jews will not be converted as a people before the mass of 
the Gentiles have entered the fold. The obstacle to the 
conversion of the Jews is precisely the fact that the work 
of evangelizing is not yet completed. It is only when all 
the peoples of the world have been collectively evangelized, 
when India is Christian, when China is Christian, when the 
African Negro world is Christian, that the Jews can be 
converted; and once the Jews are reintegrated, as Saint 
Paul says, then and then only can the resurrection come 
to pass. This strange passage throws a searching light on 
the Christian philosophy of history, and it places at the 
very heart of this mystery the missionary problem, that is, 
the evangelization of the pagans. 

What conclusions are to be drawn from the point of 
view of missionary spirituality? Saint Paul's conception 
of history teaches three important lessons. 

First, that the evangelization of the pagans, and there- 
fore the mission, are necessary prerequisites of the Second 
Coming, and that there is a direct relationship between the 
evangelization of the world and the coming of the Kingdom 
of God, for which humanity yearns. The Lord will come 


to us in His fulness only when the evangelization of the 
world has been completed. This means that when we die 
we shall enter Into the joy of the Father, to be sore, but 
our joy will remain incomplete because It will not yet 
be the resurrection, nor the great assembling* Therefore, 
for our joy to be complete the obstacle must be removed, 
that is, all nations must have been evangelized. Thus, the 
expectation of the Second Coming does not mean at all 
that we should lose interest in the present world. On 
the contrary, It should inspire us to great apostolic zeal. 

The second lesson is the urgency .of preaching. If we 
truly yearn for the coming of the Kingdom of God, then 
the preaching of the Gospel, and in particular missionary 
evangelization, take on a new urgency and appear to be the 
only efficacious means we have of preparing for the 
Kingdom of God. That is why Saint Paul stresses this idea 
with such insistence. 1 shall cite only one very beautiful 
text from the Second Epistle to Timothy, which presents 
several of the ideas we have been discussing. This is a 
passage which often recurs in the liturgy: 

"I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall 
judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his 
kingdom ..." It is clear that Saint Paul is placing himself 
wholly within the perspective of the Second Coming, 
which is to include the judgment, the coming of Christ, 
and the kingdom. "Preach the word/' There is a direct 
link between the two. ". . . Reprove, entreat, rebuke 
in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when 
they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to 
their desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, 
having itching ears : And will indeed turn away their hearing 
from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be 
thou vigilant, labour in all things, do* the work of an evan- 
gelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now 


ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution Is at 
hand. I have fought a good fight. 1 have finished my 
course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there Is 
up for me a crown of justice , which the Lord the just 
judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but 
to them also that love his coming. 1 ' 1 

The final words, **qui diligunt adventum ejus," provide 
one of the greatest and most beautiful definitions of a 
Christian: "He who loves the Second Coming of the Lord/" 
that is, he whose soul Is elevated above merely temporal 
and historical fulfilments In order to await the final meeting 
between the Bridegroom and the Bride, between Christ 
and humanity. 

There Is one last aspect that may seem to contradict 
the preceding one, but whose union with it, paradoxically, 
constitutes Christian spirituality: patience. While there 
Is urgency In the matter of preaching, there Is also the 
delay, the "mora," of the Bridegroom. We now know 
why He delays, and we realize better than the first Christians 
that His coming must still be put off for a little while, until 
missionary evangelization has been accomplished. It should 
be remarked that this evangelization might be accomplished 
more quickly if there were only a little more faith in the 
world, if Christians were animated by the zeal of Saint 
Paul. At all events, Christ's coming is not yet, and while 
we wait we must continue to watch, not becoming dis- 
couraged, and above all not losing sight of what we are 
striving toward. We must not become accustomed to this 
earth. Our spiritual hopes must not become degraded In 
an earthly Messianism. Our great temptation is to lose 
sight of this celestial and perfect fulfilment of the Kingdom 
of God, and to content ourselves with Its feeble Image in 
some form of terrestrial society. For even the best Image 

1 2 Timothy, IV, i-S. 


Is but a degraded reflection of what we expect of the true 
Kingdom of God. 

Orthodox and Protestant Eschatologles 

Christians have lost their sense of history. This was 
particularly true of Russian Orthodoxy, which had lost 
Interest In history. ( The Orthodox religion had become a 
religion of monks , an intemporal contemplation expressed 
through the liturgical life, a life already in the society of 
the angels. Therefore, the full meaning of the Incarnation, 
and in particular of evangelization, was lost. Russian 
Orthodox Christians still maintain a few vigorous missions, 
but the Orthodox mission is, on the whole, very meagre. 
There Is one mission, notably In Japan, but it Is of little 
importance. Now Russia has once again found her sense 
of history on the secular level, through Marxism. And by 
this mysterious course history and eschatology have both 
been reborn in Russian religious thought. This can be 
seen In the work of Berdiaev, who contrasts Orthodox 
Messianism and Occidental conservatism. But this opposi- 
tion arises chiefly from sociological differences. In modern 
Russia there Is a dynamism and an elan toward the future, 
whereas among the peoples of the West there Is an effort 
rather to conserve the past. 

Among Protestants there has also been a rebirth of 
eschatology in the Earth school. Eschatology is at the heart 
of Earth's thought, but this eschatology is quite different 
from ours, inasmuch as Protestants understand eschatology 
to be a rupture between the present world and the world of 
God. They have no idea of historical development. For 
them, eschatology expresses the tragic situation of man 
the sinner In the presence of God. The Protestants hold 


that we are Justified only in hope; not only do we await 
the resuirectior^ we are even waiting for grace. 

On the other hand, we Catholics hold that It is a question 
of distinguishing between what is awaited and what Is 
already possessed. We know that we already possess 
grace, that we arc "sons of God/' as Saint John says, but 
that we do not yet possess the resurrection. The element 
of expectation is even more tragic for the Protestants than 
for us. The Christian saints, the great mystics, already 
possess God in a measure. For the Protestants this does not 
exist. That is why they understand the Old Testament 
so well, it speaks much more about expectation than does 
the New Testament. In their eyes, Christ has won their 
salvation, but they do not yet enjoy it. Luther expresses 
this attitude very poignantly when he says: Ci A Protestant 
is one who is in prison, knowing that he has been 
acquitted." 1 We hold that a Catholic is one who has 
emerged from prison. For us, liberation has already 
been won. 

The Eschatological Significance of the 
Conversion of the Jews 

The destiny of the Jewish people is the most mysterious 
of God's designs. One can at best catch a glimpse of it. 
Certainly, the great danger for Christianity would have 
been for it to remain bound to Judaism. The end of the 
old order, whose purpose has been the election of God's 
chosen people in order to make possible the coming of a 
wholly new world, had to be manifested in some way. 
If Judaism had been converted to Christianity in its entirety, 
it might have remained dominant in Christianity, and this 
could have been a tremendous obstacle to evangelization. 
The rupture was a means of demonstrating to the Gentiles 

1 Translator was unable to track down the source of this statement. 


the transition from the Jewish religion to the universal 
religion. Here again we catch a glimpse of the mysterious 
wisdom of God's plan. And let us not forget that the 
malediction of a race does not Imply the condemnation 
of Its Individual members. It would be intolerable for God 
to have condemned to eternal damnation an entire race, 
and especially its coalmen people. This would be in 
absolute contradiction to the spirit of Saint Paul, for it is 
evident that Saint Paul retained great love for his brothers 
and exalted their greatness. 

The truth of the matter is that God's plan may at certain 
moments strike down a race all of whose members may 
none the less be saved individually. There were some 
Jews who bore great responsibility for Christ's condem- 
nation; but, as a whole, **they knew not what they did/' 
as Christ Himself has said. When Saint Paul persecuted 
the Christians he did so in good faith, convinced that he 
was doing God's work. This is a typical example. Thus, 
it cannot be said that there has been a condemnation of 
the Jews individually. Rather, it was in God's plan that 
this people, as a people, should be cast aside for a while. 
As Saint Paul says, "if the offence of them be the riches of 
the world' * a remarkable expression, when we reflect 
on ft "and the diminution of them, the riches of the 
Gentiles; how much more the fulness of them?" 1 Here 
is a presage of future glory for the Jewish people, which is 
astonishing in Saint Paul: the Jewish people will one day 
experience plenitude, but for the time being their fall is 
the riches of the world. 

Besides, we can well understand the reasons for their 
refusal. They did not consent to being pushed back into 
the ranks. Socially, it was almost impossible for them to 
accept. A people or a class renounces its privilege only 

1 Homons, XI, i2. 


with great reluctance. What God asked of the Jews 
was for them to cease being the chosen people. His only 
people, after they had for nineteen centuries basked in the 
pride of being the firstborn of God. 



THE MISSION, that is, the evangelization of all nations, is 
the present mystery of the Church. From the time of the 
Ascension of Our Lord into heaven until His return in the 
fulness of time to take final possession of His kingdom, this 
is the great reality that fills the history of the world, 
through all its external vicissitudes. When this evangeli- 
zation has been completed, Christ will come back, the 
work of His apostles having been accomplished. 

Now, this evangelization of the world began on Pentecost, 
with the coming of the Holy Ghost. In the first Epistle 
of Saint Peter we read: "Of which salvation the prophets 
have inquired and diligently searched, who prophesied of the 
grace to come in you. Searching what or what manner of 
time the Spirit of Christ in them did signify; when it 
foretold those sufferings that are in Christ, and the glories 
that should follow: To whom it is revealed, that not to 
themselves, but to you they ministered those things which 
are now declared to you by them that have preached the 
gospel to you, the Holy Ghost being sent down from 
heaven, on whom the angels desire to look/' l 

The scene of Pentecost, which inaugurated this "pro- 
found mystery" demonstrates its missionary significance. 
It is remarkable that the effect of the descent of the Holy 
Ghost on the Apostles should have been that they began 
to speak "with divers tongues." Indeed, "the multitude 
came together, and were confounded in mind, because 

1 i Fetor, I, 10-12. 


that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. 
And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: 
how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein 
we were bom? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and 
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadbcia, Pontus 
and Asia, Phrygia, and Paraphflla, Egypt, and die parts of 
Lybia about Gyrene . . /** 

Whatever the nature of this miracle of tongues. It has 
immense significance: namely, that the descent of the 
Holy Ghost coincides with the beginning of the evangeliza- 
tion of all nations, that it marks and this is what Pente- 
cost really means that the economy that had existed 
until then and had reserved God's message for the Jewish 
people alone, had collapsed, and from that moment the 
universalism of the Church began. 

We can scarcely avoid setting in juxtaposition to this 
scene of Pentecost, another scene that has an obvious con- 
nection with it, the scene of the tower of Babel. Moreover, 
the contrast was brought out long since and it is compelling. 
At the tower of Babel, men who until then had been 
members of a single family became, in consequence of their 
sin, separated by confusion and the division of tongues. 
Sin, therefore, ends in division, and the sign of this division 
is the lack of comprehension that exists among men. 
Pentecost restored what had been broken; once again 
men of all nations communicated in the unity of the Spirit, 
by virtue of which a common language has been restored. 
Thus, the mystery of Pentecost inaugurated the economy 
in which we now live. This economy is characterized on 
the one hand by universalism, that is, the evangelization 
of all nations and their gathering within the unity of the 
Church ; and on the other hand by the presence of the Holy 

1 Acts of the Apostles, II, 6-10. 


Having said this mueh^ we shall now try to see how the 
coming of the Holy Ghost, the principle of all missionary 
action* was first accomplished in the person of Our Lord, 
Who was the first to fulfil in Himself the missionary 
vocation. Then we shall inquire how, after Pentecost , 
Our Lord, once again In the glory of His Father, communi- 
cated this Spirit to His Church. This aspect of Our Lord's 
personality is rarely stressfd. 

Much is written about the relations of Christ with His 
Father. Less is written about the relations of Christ with 
the Holy Ghost, Yet all through the Gospel there is a 
very close bond between Our Lord and the Holy Ghost. 
This bond is related to a special aspect of Christ's person, 
which I shall call His prophetic ministry. Our Lord 
performed three great ministries, each of which carried 
on the work of the Old Testament and Was afterwards 
continued in the Church. There Is His royal ministry, 
by reason of which He is the Lord of all nations. This 
ministry finds its noblest expression in the Ascension, 
when Our Lord comes into possession of His sovereignty, 
when He is elevated above all the heavens, and reigns over 
the entire universe. There is also His priestly ministry 
through which He offers up to the Father the perfect 
sacrifice of His Passion. Finally, there is the prophetic 
ministry through which He proclaims the mystery, that 
is to say, the realities of the divine life and of our partici- 
pation in this life. 

This prophetic ministry, fulfilled by Our Lord and then 
continued in His Church, was prefigured in the Old 
Testament. In this respect, as in many others, Our Lord 
carries on what has been begun in the Old Testament and 
He prepares what is to be completed by the Church. Since 
the days of the Covenant men have been seized by the 
Spirit to accomplish missions. These are what we call 


Messias, the anointed, l SpMtus unxlt me The Spirit 
anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor/' 1 Our 
Lord applied these words of Isaias to Himself. In the 
Credo the bond between the Spirit and prophecy is very 

Let us explain what we mean by prophecy. When we 
speak of Christ's prophetic Ministry, or when Saint Paul 
speaks of the gift of prophecy given by the Holy Ghost, 
what is referred to is not necessarily the gift of proclaiming 
future events; rather is reference made to the prophet as 
the revealer of the mystery, speaking in God's name. 
And what is this mystery? It is the divine plan by which 
the Father adopts us in His Son, by progressive stages, 
so that He may ultimately introduce us into His kingdom. 
This plan is the object of all prophecy. In this sense, It 
always refers to the future, for it is in process of being 
accomplished, and thus the prophet is alwap oriented 
toward a future event, the full realization of God's design. 
Prophets are those who announce this design, who describe 
it beforehand, who help men to orient themselves towards 
its fulfilment. This Is the difference between a prophet 
and a sage or a philosopher: the latter are men who reveal 
eternal truths to us; whereas the prophet is a man who 
announces a future event. This reminds us once again 
that Christianity is essentially a history, the history of the 
Holy Ghost, Who is at work in the world and Who is 
transforming the world. 

Looking over the life of Our Lord, at what moment 
can we say that He received this prophetic unction? At 
what moment did the Spirit descend upon Him to take 
possession of Him and send Him forth as a prophet? It was 
at the threshold of His public life, during the extraordinary 
episode of His baptism, an event whose importance we often 

iLvke, IV, 1 8. 


tend to minimize. Up until then, Our Lord had lived a 
hidden life, during which God was mysteriously preparing 
Him for His mission. On the day of His baptism He was 
anointed by the Spirit Who, having been sent by the Father, 
descended upon Him to inaugurate His public ministry. 

In a book on the Word Incarnate, * in which he makes 
a study of Christ's various ministries, the Russian theologian 
Bulgakov emphasizes the fact that at the start of each of 
these ministries there is a descent of the Spirit and a special 
manifestation from God. He, too, relates the prophetic 
ministry of Christ to the manifestation of the Trinity at 
Christ's baptism, and he observes that there is in the Gospel 
a second remarkable manifestation of the Blessed Trinity 
surrounding the person of Our Lord; the Transfiguration. 
From the moment of His Transfiguration Our Lord 
practically halted His prophetic ministry, and all His 
activity was oriented toward preparation for the Passion. 
Here was a second manifestation of the Trinity, inaugurating 
the priestly ministry of Our Lord, whose consummation 
was to be the Passion. There is a remarkable parallelism 
between these two theophanies of the Trinity and the two 
ministries, prophetic and sacerdotal. 

For the present, we shall dwell only on the baptism, 
because it inaugurated the prophetic ministry. The Holy 
Ghost descended upon Our Lord, and afterwards led Him 
into the desert. Then Christ came back in the Holy Ghost 
to preach in Galilee. Indeed, Our Lord Himself, in the first 
congregation at the synagogue, spoke of the effusion of the 
Holy Ghost upon His Person: "And he came to Nazareth, 
where he was brought up: and he went into the synagogue, 
according to his custom, on the sabbath-day; and he rose 

1 Rev. Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov, Du Verbe Incarnt (Agnus Dei), Trans, 
from Russian by Constantin Andromkof, Paris, Aubier, Ed. Montaigne, 1943, 
382 pp. 


op to read. And the book of Isaias the prophet was delivered 
unto him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the 
place where it was written: The spirit of the Lord is upon 
me, wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel 
to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart: 
To preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the 
blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. . . . And he 
began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture 
in your ears/* 1 

We may be surprised to find Our Lord referred to as 
a Prophet, and indeed we may not be accustomed to it. 
Yet in the New Testament, this is one of the titles given 
to Him. One of the most notable passages in this con- 
nection is the one about the disciples of Etmmaus. These 
disciples, not knowing they were speaking to the Lord, 
told him of all that had been happening: "Art thou only 
a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things 
that have been done there in these days? To whom he 
said: What things? And they said: Concerning Jesus of 
Nazareth, who was a prophet, mighty in work and word 
before God and all the people/* a 

Continuing our analysis, Our Lord's prophetic ministry 
was manifested by two powers : first, by the power of the 
spoken word. The Prophet is essentially one who announces 
the mystery and whose spoken word possesses the efficacy 
to convert souls. That is the basic attribute of prophetic 
speech, that is, of speech that is not of human origin, but 
of the Holy Ghost Himself. That is the difference between 
prophetic speech, the message of the Christian preacher on 
the one hand, and the message of the lecturer or of the 
philosopher. The former is endowed with prophetic 
efficacy that touches men's hearts and transforms them. 
The words of the true Christian apostle, the true missionary, 

1 luk, IV, 16-21. 2 luK XXIV, 18-19. 


are endowed with divine virtue, and thereby possess a 
mysterious efficacy that human could never possess. 

And note well that this power Is not the power of reason. 
Saint Paul lays great emphasis on this fa the Acts of the 
Apostles: that It is not by virtue of human wisdom that 
the apostle speaks. On the contrary, he must disburden 
himself of all hutnan artifices. 

Saint Paul had tried to make use of human wisdom 
when he preached in Athens, where, finding himself in an 
intellectual milieu, he was tempted to play the intellectual. 
He learned that was not the way to spread God's message, 
for this message derives its efficacy from the virtue of the 
Holy Ghost, and it is in the virtue of the Holy Ghost that 
the apostle must speak. This does not mean, however, 
that the apostle is not to become all things to all men, nor 
to present Christ *s message in a manner that appeals to the 
mentality and spirit of those whom he is addressing, nor 
to take into account the different elements of incarnation 
in different lands. But it does mean that fundamentally 
his message will rest on the power of God alone. Remem- 
ber what Our Lord told His disciples: that they need not 
be concerned about what to say when they came before 
tribunals, for the Holy Ghost Himself would indicate what 
they were to say. 

The preaching of God's word is an event, something 
that happens. It is not a purely intellectual reality. Karl 
Earth has said some admirable things on this subject. 1 
As he sees it, the position of a Christian preacher is the 
position of a man who knows he is only a man, and at the 
same time knows that he must speak about God. Now, 
as Barth says very cogently, one does not speak about God. 
Only God speaks about God, man is powerless to do so ; 

1 Karl Barth; The Word of God and the Word of Man, translated by Douglas Horton, 
the Pilgrim Press (Boston, Chicago), 1528, 327 pp, 


and it is the preacher's tragic plight that he 

about God, knowing that only the Holy Ghost Is 

of so doing. Unless It is the Holy Ghost Who touches 

hearts and enlightens them, the preacher Is wasting his 

time, he Is a tinkling cymbal. 

This is of capital importance for the mission, a fact 
that is brought home to us at the beginning of the Acts 
of the Apostles. The Apostles spoke in the power of the 
Spirit, and their words had marvellous efficacy for the 
conversion of souls. Why do not our words convert more 
people today? Is it because we do not know how to present 
our subject? Yet, since the days of Saint Peter and Saint 
Paul we have discerned admirable arguments to explain 
and justify our religion. So we do not lack good argu- 
ments. In fact we have far better reasons for believing 
than Saint Peter and Saint Paul had. Theologians have 
discovered numerous reasons, and yet God's word has no 
greater efficacy. Thus, it is a matter not of finding good 
reasons, but of the efficacy of the Spirit. We are not 
efficacious because we have too little faith, because we do 
not confess our belief in Christ, placing our trust in the 
power of the Spirit. 

In the second place, the prophetic ministry includes 
not only the efficacy of the word, but also the efficacy of 
works. And this is a fundamental and very mysterious 
aspect of Christ's prophetic ministry, of the prophetic 
ministry of the Prophets, and that of the first Apostles. 
Indeed, their message was buttressed by extraordinary 
works, mirabilia, miracles, and there is a very close link 
between miracles and prophecy. 

Our Lord has often stressed this in the Gospel: miracles 
are testimony given to Him by His Father. And the 
great works that He accomplished proved that His kingdom 
had come. In the Old Testament, the great prophet Elisha 


also attested to the authenticity of his ministry by the 
extraordinary works he accomplished. Yet we gejt the 
impression that he had much more trouble performing 
miracles than Our Lord had. In order to bring a dead man 
back to life Ellsha was obliged to lie on him twice before 
the dead man decided to resuscitate, whereas Our Lord 
and this shows the vast difference between the Old and the 
New Testament said to the little girl ; * *Maid, arise. s * I And 
the girl arose. His word was sufficient to perform miracles. 

It is remarkable that even In the Old Testament miracles 
are closely linked to the public ministry. In the Gospel, 
these miracles that we sometimes have difficulty in under- 
standing are an aspect of the prophetic ministry of Our 
Lord, They attest to the presence within Him of the 
Holy Ghost, through Whom He performed great works. 
It is through the Holy Ghost that all things are created, 
and His power continues to have divine efficacy for per- 
forming extraordinary things. After Pentecost the Apostles 
also accomplished miracles that attested to the presence 
of the Holy Spirit within them. We should keep all this 
well in mind. Since the days of the Apostles, miracles have 
been rarer. However, miracles are realities even today, 
and the great saints of the nineteenth century, for example, 
the Cur6 d'Ars and Dom Bosco accompanied their preach- 
ing with extraordinary works. The power of the Spirit 
has not diminished. The Prophet is still a person mighty 
in words and in works. 

In yet another way Our Lord carried on and even went 
beyond the prophetic ministry. This derives from the fact 
that the prophetic ministry has always been accompanied 
by persecution. Our Lord often comes back to this idea 
in the Gospel : * * Just as your fathers persecuted the Prophets , 
so you, too, persecute me/' 2 

1 JLuJb, VIH, 4. 2 Paraphrase from Mstthew t XXIII, 31-4. 


There is nothing new, therefore, in the fact that Our 
Lord was persecuted. His Passion was part of a long and 
continuous persecution of the Prophets , which started 
from the very beginnings of the Old Testament, and was 
consummated in Him. And when Our Lord tells us that 
the Old Testament foretold His Passion, we are sometimes 
at a loss where to seek this prophecy. In reality it is to be 
found in the persecution with which the jews had always 
pursued the Prophets, who were symbols of Christ. 

Christ's death, which as a sacrifice is related to His 
priestly ministry, as martyrdom is related to His prophetic 
ministry. Martyrdom is essentially testimony. Chrlst*s 
martyrdom carries on the testimony that all the Prophets 
had borne, and of which His Passion was the most perfect 
example. In its turn, it was to be the model for the Apostles 
who were to be called on to bear witness even to martyr- 
dom, that is, even to giving up their lives in testimony to 
the truth of their words. 

These realities all seem clearer to us when we under- 
stand that they are not new, but are part of a continuity 
of which they are but the culmination. At the same time, 
a break does exist, and with the baptism of Jesus some- 
thing really new begins. As a matter of fact, from then on 
ancient prophecy was superseded: the Holy Ghost, Who 
had dispersed His utterance among the diverse Prophets, 
was thenceforth to concentrate entirely on the person of 
Our Lord. What happened to the prophecies is analogous 
to what happened to the temple. Indeed prophecies and 
temple are closely linked. 

Just as, from the time of Our Lord's coming, and 
particularly from the time of His Passion, the temple in 
Jerusalem lost its age-old function and God took up His 
dwelling in the person of Our Lord, likewise, from then 
on the Prophets were superseded and the spirit of prophecy 


In its into Our Lord. The Yistble manifesta- 

tion of the life of Saint John the 

who from that was cast aside, his mission 

accomplished* As soon as Our Lord s s public 
ministry began, all John's disciples were to abandon 

Mm and go over to Our Lord. Moreover* John himself, 
because he was initiated into the mystery and was inwardly 
enlightened by the Holy Ghost, entered right into God's 
plan and uttered the incomparable words **He must 
increase, and I must decrease." 1 **The friend of the 
Bridegroom rejoiceth with joy because of the Bridegroom's 
voice." 8 

It is Important to view all this in the perspective of 
prophecy: Saint John, baptizing Christ, is the last of the 
great prophets of the Old Testament; he brings together 
within himself all the prophetic spirit that had preceded 
him, and he attests to the termination of the Old Testa- 
ment prophecy by retiring into the background to give 
place from then on to Him Who is the heir to all these 
traditions and Who is Our Lord. Saint Justin, in the 
Dialogue with Trjphoz** indicates in the following remarkable 
passage how the Holy Ghost Who had dwelt in the Prophets 
now passed into Our Lord: 

" Your prophets/' he says, "have each received from 
God one or another of thes^ powers ; and they have acted 
as we are told in the Scriptures. Solomon had the spirit 
of wisdom, Daniel, that of understanding and counsel, 
Moses, that of strength and piety, Elias, that of fear, Isaias, 
that of knowledge. Each one possessed one power, or 
alternatively one or the other. . . . The Holy Ghost 
rested, that is to say, ceased (from that operation) when the 
One came, after Whom all things were to disappear from 
your midst, when His kingdom was established among men ; 

*Joba> ffl, 30. 


but in Him were again to appear and to abide, according 
to prophecy, the gifts that He grants, bj the grace of the 
power of this Spirit, to those who believe in Him. One 
prophecy announced that this was to be accomplished by 
Him after His Ascension into heaven. I have already 
affirmed and I repeat; He ascended on high. He took with 
Him the throng of captives ... It has also been said in 
another prophecy: *And it shall come to pass in the last 
days, I will pour out of my Spirit upon my servants and 
upon my handmaids V* 1 

Justin continues in a manner that touches us deeply: 
"And we can see among us men and women who have 
received charisms (gifts) of the Holy Ghost; therefore, 
it was not because He was lacking in power that He 
prophesied that these powers were to come upon 
Him, but because they were not to exist in anyone after 
Him. "^ 

Thus, Saint Justin understood that these men and women 
had received the charisms (gifts) of the Spirit of God, 
therein accomplishing the prophecy. This brings us up 
to the time in which we are now living, that is, to the 
effusion of the Holy Ghost upon the Church. This effusion 
of the Holy Ghost, which is gathered up, as it were, in the 
person of Our Lord, is possessed by Our Lord only that 
He may pour it out upon His Church ; and that is what we 
understand Pentecost to mean. 

In this manner, the text of the prophet Joel, to which 
Justin alludes and which is also cited at the beginning of 
the Acts of the Apostles, is accomplished on Pentecost: 
"And it shall come to pass in the last days ..." Notice 
the words * 'last days, ' ' stressing the eschatological nature of 
missionary reality, that is, that we are really living in the 

3 Justin, Dialogue with Trypho% LXXXVH, 4-8. 
8 Justin, op. tit., LXXXVffl, i. 


last days. These last days may be prolonged but they are 
none the less the last days, because after them will come 
the end, the Second Coming, "It shall come to pass/* 
says Joel, *'I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: 
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy. * * x 

Therefore, we see that this prophetic ministry that 
was the ministry of the ancient Prophets and the ministry 
of Christ, is also the ministry of all Christians, There is 
a prophetic ministry in the Church In the measure that 
**Tfae Holy Ghost is poured out upon your sons and 
daughters." "And your young men will see visions, and 
your old men dream dreams. And upon my servants, 
indeed, and upon my handmaids, will I pour out in those 
days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will shew 
wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath : 
blood and Ere, and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be 
turned Into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the 
great and manifest day of the Lord come. ' ' 2 

It is truly remarkable that the sequence in all these texts 
should always be the same : The descent of the Holy Ghost, 
and the evangelization of all flesh, then the harbingers: 
"The sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood," 
before the day of the Lord, that is to say, the Second 
Coming. We should note the close relationships between 
these realities when seen in this perspective, which is 
precisely the perspective of the early Christians. The idea 
of the eschatological nature of the mission is ever present. 
Viewed in this perspective, everything takes on an extra- 
ordinary simplicity ; the succession of events, the unfolding 
of the mystery, becomes almost limpid. We realize only 
that we must enter into it by prayer and through the 
Spirit, and strive to understand it. 

1 jW, n, 28, cited in the Acts of the Apostks, H, 17. 

2 Joel, U, 28 and 32, cited in the Acts of the Apostles, n, 17-21. 


How does the effusion of the Spirit on the Apostles 
become manifest in the Church ? In two fundamental ways : 
This was true even in the Old Testament, but more especi- 
ally in the New. As a matter of fact, it has a twofold end: 
The first, which we are not here considering, is to sanctify 
us by making the divine life operative in us ; in this sense, 
it is the Holy Ghost Whom we receive in Baptism and Who, 
as a living principle , gradually transforms us by nurturing 
in us an awareness of the things of God through faith; 
by developing in us the love of God and of others through 
charity ; by increasing in us the hope that makes us adhere 
to divine realities ; by giving us His gifts through which we 
come to have antennae* as it were, that bring us close to 
God and enable us to respond to divine touches ; by making 
us capable of being taught and led by the Spirit. The fruits 
of the Holy Ghost are the infinitely delicate and wonderful 
psychology of the Christian soul by which all these perfect 
virtues of long-suffering, purity, saintliness, kindness, 
develop within us by the action of the Spirit. 

That is one way in which the Spirit acts within each 
one of us and transforms us. But there is a second action 
of the Spirit, oriented directly toward the mission, and 
by which the Spirit makes us capable of bearing witness 
and therefore of evangelizing, by giving us what is known 
as charisms. These charisrns are defined by the theologians 
as gifts of God that are made ad extra, that is to say, in 
view of the external work to be accomplished ; to a certain 
extent they may not be accompanied by personal sanctity, 
although their full development depends on it; but they 
are always linked to the function to be performed. 

It is very remarkable to notice in the Acts of the Apostles, 
which have been called the Gospel of the Holy Ghost, 
that the entire missionary achievement of the Apostles 
is attributed to the Holy Ghost acting within them. We 


might cite innumerable texts In the Acts which depict 
the Holy Ghost leading the first Apostles. I shall choose 
a few texts at random. Immediately after Pentecost, during 
the first days at Jerusalem,, th Jewish tribunal ordered 
Peter , James and John to appear before it; and the text 
says: i4 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost . . ."* 
A little farther on in the Acts: "Wherefore, brethren, look 
ye out among you seven men of good reputation, full of 
the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over 
this business/ * s Even more characteristic is the scene 
in which Philip baptizes the Ethiopian, minister of Queen 
Candace: "And the Spirit said to Philip: Go near, and 
join thyself to this chariot. And Philip running thither, 
heard Mm reading the prophet Isaias . . And as they went 
their way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch 
said: See, here is water: What doth hinder me from being 
baptized? . . . And he commanded the chariot to stand 
still, and they went down into the water, both Philip 
and the eunuch: and he baptized him." 3 Likewise, in 
the sequel to the Acts of the Apostles, the Spirit led Saint 
Paul, directing him wherever he was to accomplish his 

This action of the Spirit is manifested by charisms. It 
was Saint Paul who spoke most of them, for example, in the 
first Epistle to the Corinthians: "Now, concerning spiritual 
things, my brethren, 1 would not have you ignorant . . . 
Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit; 
And there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord; 
And there are diversities of operations, but the same God, 
who worketh all in all. And the manifestation of the 
Spirit is given to every man unto profit. To one indeed, by 
the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the 

1 Acts of the Apostles, IV, 8. a Acts of the Apostles, VI, 3. 

* Acts of the Apostles, Vffl, 29-38. 


word of knowledge, according to the Spirit; to 

another, faith in the Spirit; to another, the of 

healing in one Spirit ; to another* the working of miracles ; 
to another^ prophecy ; to another, the discerning of spirits ; 
to another,, diverse kinds of tongues ; to another* Interpre- 
tation of speeches, * * l 

In this text we find mention of all the attributes of the 
Spirit of Prophecy, as we have so far presented them. First 
of all, there is prophecy, then the power to perform miracles, 
the word of knowledge, the power in words, coming after 
the power in works; and at the end there is the gift of 
tongues, whose relation to Pentecost is so mysterious. 

The listing of these various charisms which make the 
Apostles capable of accomplishing their prophetic ministry 
and in consequence of evangelizing all nations would 
not be complete without reference to the texts in which 
Saint Paul describes the interior gifts through which the 
Spirit strengthens the Apostles so that they may be capable 
of accomplishing their mission. In these texts, three great 
traits are stressed: On the one hand, strength, magnanimity, 
the habit of overcoming extraordinary difficulties and of 
affronting them with assurance in the power of the Spirit 
of God. Second, wisdom and the knowledge of divine 
matters, through which the Holy Ghost, Who alone, as 
Saint Paul says, sounds the depths of God, enlightens the 
intelligence of the Apostles and makes them capable of 
understanding the things that are of God, and of communi- 
cating them to others. And finally, unity is absolutely 
necessary to the Apostles, since it is a single spirit acting 
within them that must prevent all rivalry or contention 
among them, and in some manner gather together into one 
sheaf the diversity of charisms, with a view to the accom- 
plishment of the one task. 

1 i Corinthians, XB., i-io. 


As Justin us, whereas in the Old Testament these 

charisms were divided t one bestowed on Isaiah , another on 
David, still another on Daniel, they were gathered together 
in the person of Christ and once again distributed among 
the different members of Christ, each having his own par- 
ticular grace for the accomplishment of his own task. 
These charisms are continued in the Church today through 
the diversity of spiritual families and through the variety of 
vocations^ each one being heir to one of these gifts. This 
is what wholly justifies the diversity within the Church of 
God. The apostle does not say to the contemplative, or the 
contemplative to the apostle: "1 have received the better 
part," for each has his own special charism and seeks to 
fulfil it in charity. 

To conclude on a missionary note, we can say that we 
live in a time of the revelation of the Holy Spirit, not only 
in the sense in which that has always been true since 
Pentecost, but in the special sense that today we ourselves 
are more and more aware of and concerned about the Holy 
Spirit. The mystery of Christ was accomplished in His 
Ascension. On the other hand, the mystery of the Holy 
Ghost is not yet wholly accomplished amongst men. We 
shall know Him completely only when all nations shall have 
been evangelised. 

In this connection, the races of the Orient, and especially 
India which will perhaps be the last nation to be evan- 
gelized have a very special relation to the Holy Ghost. 
Why? Because at the very root of Indian doctrine is the 
conception of God as spirit immanent in all things. India 
interprets this falsely in that she sees in this spirit the very 
substance of all things. This is not true, but it does dispose 
India toward an understanding of the expression: Spiritus 
Domini replerit orbem terrarum* 


There is no sentence In the entire Scriptures can 

touch the soul of India as much as this one; "Spiritus 
replevlt orbem tcrrarum The spirit of the Lord 
the whole world.* 11 It will be necessary to replace 
Spiritus by atman . . , and, in this atman, to see not an 
immanent God but the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, 
for indeed it is proper to the Holy Ghost to be the gift of 
God, The Father is the One Who communicates and Who 
is the source whence all things come. The Son is the One 
through Whom all things are communicated, and is in a 
way the model , the formulation and the definition and 
that Is why the Occident , which loves what is definite, 
has been predisposed to understand the mystery of the 
Word. The mentality of India, on the other hand, will be 
more ready to contemplate the mystery of the Holy Ghost , 
the Sanctifier of the cosmos, in Whom God penetrates the 
entire world. 

We may be permitted to think, therefore, that we shall 
also possess a much fuller theology of the Holy Ghost, for 
this idea is very close to our hearts. That will come about 
the day that His theology is expressed in the thought of 
India; this is the true vocation of Indian thought, just as the 
vocation of Greek thought was to express the dogma of 
the God-Man. 2 

Theology will be completed the day evangelization comes 
to an end, the day all nations know Christ, the day the 
entire world has heard the Gospel, the day Christ can come 
to take possession of a domain that will have been made com- 
pletely ready for Him, and when all nations will each in 
turn have borne testimony to Him. This is the final aspect 
of the very close bond existing not only between the 

1 Wisdom, I, 7. 

a See Monchanin, Le Saint-Esprit et L'lorfc, Cahiers, Dieu Vivant HI (Ed. du 


doctrine of the Holy Ghost the missionary vocation in 
general, but also between It and India's particular voca- 
tion. Let this be one more reason for us to yearn for the 
conversion of the nations of the Orient. We aspire not 
only towards the plenitude of charity but also towards the 
plenitude of light. Not only shall we enjoy a vast blossom- 
ing of charity when all nations are gathered together in 
Christ, but also an increase in light in the measure that 
revelation becomes more luminous to us by having been 
expressed through all the nations of the earth. 

The Sin Against the Holy Ghost 

This sin has been interpreted in terms of the successive 
economies of Revelation. The sin against Christ would 
consist in rejecting Our Lord before the coming of the 
Holy Ghost. The sin against the Holy Ghost would be 
the refusal to accept the Spirit after Pentecost. The 
sin of the Jews who rejected the Spirit after Pentecost 
is more serious than the sin of the Jews who put Christ 
to death, 

There is another related explanation: In Christ there are 
both God and man, and the sin against Christ is not neces- 
sarily a sin against God (save in the sense in which all sins 
are against God). It is the fact of not having recognized 
God in the Man Jesus, but this can bear on the humanity 
of Our Lord and not be a sin directly against God, whereas 
the sin against tiie Spirit would be a direct rejection of 
God, a blasphemy against God. 

What is true of Christ is true in a sense also of the 
Church. Many men see only the human side of the Church 


and reject it because of that; their sin is not the sin against 
the Spirit, and we can believe that it will be forgiven. The 
sin against the Spirit, In this case, would be the sin of those 
who are cognizant of the divine nature of the Church and 
yet refuse through pride to acknowledge it* 



IN CONCLUSION, we shall try to bring out a few of the 
features of a missionary spirituality, that Is, of a Christian 
spirituality oriented towards the extension of the Kingdom 
of God In the world. I would like to show that the apostolic 
spirit is authentic only In the measure that it Is deeply rooted 
in the spirit of contemplation, that it is but the blossoming, 
the fruition of the life of praise. It is contemplation of God 
that arouses in us the desire to make Him known and loved. 
This resolves perhaps the most difficult of all the problems 
raised by the missionary apostolate, one which can often 
prevent us from grasping the full significance of this aposto- 
late. The problem Is this: Present-day theologians, con- 
tinuing the thought of theologians of former times, ask 
themselves what Is the fate of souls outside the Church. 
Inasmuch as all pagans, all Buddhists, all Moslems are out- 
side the Church, are they thereby excluded from salvation? 
What Is the exact meaning of the formula: ** Outside of the 
Church there is no salvation?* * Now, most theologians hold 
that belonging to the visible Church Is not absolutely 
necessary to salvation; there are substitutes for visible 
membership in the Church, and we can feel justified in 
believing that souls of good-will outside the Church are 

But why, then, do we have missions ? If these souls can 
be saved without visible membership in the Church, why 
not leave them to their good intentions ; if Buddhism for 
some, and Islam for others can prove a way to find God, what 



need Is there of pulling them out of their error of 
bringing the Gospel to them? I am not saying that this com- 
pletely destroys the importance of the missionary apostolate, 
whose aim will always be to bring them a greater good 
within the Church, but ft might seem to diminish its 

In reality, this problem is based on Incorrect premises. 
The source of the apostolate is not necessity but the exigency 
of love. What must arouse the missionary vocation in us is, 
first of all, not the need of souls to be saved , but love of 
God which leads us to want Him to be known and loved. 
The authentic missionary call has its origin in the pain 
we feel because Christ is not known or loved. Now, this 
exigency of love is more urgent than any necessity could be. 
Here we have a twofold movement: We desire to bring 
Christ to souls, and we desire to bring soills to Christ. 
Too often, we think only of the first: that we must bring 
Christ to souls. If we go no farther than that, there is 
danger that our missionary call will not be urgent enough, 
and may run foul of certain objections. But if we also 
insist on the other aspect: that we want to bring souls to 
Christ because this is the only efficacious proof of love we 
can giv Him (indeed, we can add nothing to His interior 
glory, but only to His external glory) ; then, the apostolic 
spirit, flowing from a love of Christ, takes on an implac- 
able urgency. It is in this love that the great Apostles have 
found their elan towards souls. " Where/* Saint Ignatius 
once wrote to some young religious, "is the majesty of our 
God adored? Where are His infinite goodness and His 
infinite patience known ?" 

It is very important that our missionary spirituality should 
be centred, first of all, in God. In our time, spirituality is 
often too anthropocentric, oriented too much toward the 
good of humanity as such. This degrades its most essential 


religious content, and It up by being an extension of 

humanism. It is because we love our fellow men that we 
want them to have all good things, Including the benefits 
of religion; bat the starting point remains human. An 
authentic missionary spirituality rtiust Include this attitude, 
but above all else, it must have its source in love of God and 
of Christ. In consequence, it must be perpetually rooted in 
contemplation, which maintains within us this sense of God. 

In order to this idea fully, let us first reflect on the 

exact nature of the spirit of praise, inasmuch as the mission- 
ary spirit flows from it. The spirit of praise is the recog- 
nition of the transcendence of God. God is the absolute 
sovereign on Whom all things depend at each instant, so 
that nothing whatever would exist if He did not maintain 
it in existence. In His presence the nations of the world are 
as a drop of water. Such thought helps us to see things in 
their true perspective. We are myopic, and visible things 
take on in our eyes an importance disproportionate to their 
real value ; and by contrast, the things of God, which are 
distant, are somewhat undervalued. The spirit of praise 
consists in re-establishing a true perspective, putting things 
in their proper order, treating God as God and human 
things as human things. 

Now to treat God as God means, little by little, to dis- 
cover His greatness. The greatness of God is, first of all, 
His immensity beyond the grasp of our imagination, so vast 
that the mind staggers when we try to understand it, for no 
created imagination can give us any idea of it. This great- 
ness arouses in us a sort of religious fear that one writer 
has called the tremendum, 1 a dread that is hardly in itself 
anything religious. This greatness is so much beyond us 
that it makes us feel out of our element, in its presence we 
become aware of our own infinite smallness. Abraham 

1 OttO, Op, Ctt. t p. 12. 


expressed this feeling In the Old Testament when he said, 
after appearing before God: 4 *I will to my Lord, 

whereas I am dust and ashes." 1 

But God is not only this greatness that completely dis- 
concerts our minds. He is still more that. He is 
even farther beyond our reach because of His excellence. 
Strictly speaking, if He were nothing but power the 
He might arouse in us might very well be one of revolt. 
It is understandable that an infinitely great infinitely 
powerful being, who was not at the same time supremely 
benevolent, might well arouse such a sentiment in certain 
human souls. The fact that certain men and there have 
been many in our time, Nietzsche* for example have 
revolted against God and thought that greatness in man con- 
sisted in affirming oneself against Him, results from their 
seeing in God, above all, sovereign greatness and not that 
completely ravishing quality which thrusts itself upon us, 
not merely as a power that overwhelms but as an excellence 
whose seduction we are helpless to resist. 

This brings us to a much deeper aspect of the spirit 
of praise: God's attraction is so compelling that the moment 
we glimpse it, it draws from our souls the cry of that 
admiration by which the soul knows that it adores. Adora- 
tion is that highest form of admiration addressed only to 
God because He absolutely surpasses all limitations that 
creatures bring to their admiration. And this is the noblest 
sentiment a man can experience. 

Admiration for God arouses two other sentiments which 
seem to be opposed but in reality complement each other 
very well. The first is the feeling of fear in the presence 
of such excellence, because the more we understand how 
holy God is, the more conscious we are of our own impurity 
and all that is wretched within us. The other sentiment 

1 Genesis, XVHI, 27. 


is the desire to this excellent and to be united 

to Him, All of religious life consists IE the dialectic of 
these two elements : the more we know God the more we 
want to become purified so that we can become more closely 
united to Him. 

A final aspect must be mentioned, and it is the most 
important from OOT point of view: Namely, that God's 
excellence arouses in us a selfless desire to please Him, 
leading us to love His excellence for itself and not merely 
for ourselves. We rejoice that God possesses such excel- 
lence and we wish God all that is best. Loving God so 
much and realizing how much he deserves to be known and 
loved f we become painfully aware of the scandal that God 
is not known and is not loved. This, to me, is the true 
awakening of the authentic missionary spirit. 

We can find models of this missionary spirit in many 
of the great apostolic figures or in John the Baptist, whose 
lives were so characteristic of the kingdom of God and of 
total self-effacement before Christ's coming within souls. 
Going more deeply still, we can find its perfect expression 
in the person of Our Lord Himself, Whose entire work was 
founded on His desire for the glorification of the Father 
and on the total subordination of His own interest, of His 
own glory, to the glory of the Father. 

Christ did not seek His own glory. He never sought it, 
whereas He might with justice have done so, in view of the 
excellence that was His. He sought only the glory of the 
Father. There was always in Him a desire to bring all things 
to the Father, to bring souls to Him, and always to do His 
will. "(The Father loves me) for I do always the things 
that please him.' ' * "He that speaketh of himself, seeketh 
his own glory: but he that seeketh the glory of him that 
sent him, he is true, and there is no injustice in him." 2 

l john, Vm, 29. *Jokn, VH 18, 


This Is always the mark of those who truly follow Our 
Lord and who enter into His spirit. The sign of an authentic 
missionary is selflessness. The moment an apo&tolate 
becomes personal, that it begins to be a personal influence, 
that it is carried forward by personal influence, that it 
is carried forward by personal views, that we seek to hold 
on to souls and not simply to lead them to Christ, from 
that very moment everything collapses and we are no longer 
doing Christ's work. The important thing is that good be 
accomplished, that is, that souls learn to know Christ. 
But it matters little whether it is accomplished by us or by 
others ! We must be capable of rejoicing as much over the 
good that is accomplished by others as over the good that 
we ourselves or our close friends accomplish. 

Missionary joy, the joy we spoke of in respect to John 
the Baptist, consists in rejoicing that Christ Is known 
and that He is loved. In consequence, every time we learn 
that new souls have come close to Him, that new lands have 
opened themselves to Him, we should experience a very 
pure joy because a soul has found its Bridegroom. It should 
not matter to us that this has been accomplished by others, 
or even that we ourselves may never be able to do anything 
of this sort because it is not our vocation. Things like that 
do not prevent the apostolic soul from rejoicing in spirit 
because it is profoundly happy, in its love for God, to see 
that He is increasingly known and loved. And, on the other 
hand, the suffering of the apostolic soul does not arise from 
the fact that its own action is restricted to the area assigned 
to it, within which it may have some measure of success ; 
rather does it consist in realizing that beyond this small 
sphere of action there may yet be entire worlds that remain 
closed to the coming of Christ, strangers to the unity of 
God's creatures. P6guy has written: "Tant qu'il y a un 
homme dehors, la porte qui se ferme sur lui ferine une 


cite cTinJustlce et die haine. f * l He of temporal 

society > but his words reveal a magnificent intuition. 

This deep of bringing everything back to unity Is 

the fundamental missionary aspiration, but on the spiritual 
and not the temporal level. The missionary soul is deeply 
wounded by the disorder implicit in the fact that there are 
men, peoples, races, still strangers to the city of God. But 
we are not conscious enough of this disorder. Why? 
Because we do not have a great enough sense of unity. 
Now, the soul of Our Lord felt this very deeply. It is a 
feeling that we surmise was very strong in Him in the 
Garden of Gethsemani. We can visualize the anguish of 
His soul in the face of all that yet eluded Him, all that He 
had not yet succeeded in bringing back into unity, in join- 
ing to the Father. 

Let us delve deeper into this disposition of Our Lord's 
heart, for it is always to Him that we must come back if 
we want to leam what are the fundamental Christian dis- 
positions. * *I have not a devil : but I honour my Father . . . 
I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and 
judgeth. , . . If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is 
my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is 
your God. And you have not known him. . . . " 2 

One often hears the remark, when there is question of a 
missionary vocation: But, after all, why go so far? There 
is so much good to be done here. One gets the impression 
that it would be best and this is a human reaction first 
to attend to one's own affairs, and then to take care of the 
rest, if there is time. In Our Lord we find an entirely 
different disposition. Christ is concerned with the work 
of His Father. Then, He trusts His Father completely to 

1 Charles Pguy, Be Jean Cosfe, Paris, Gallimard, 1937. 
2 >K VJU, 49-S*. 


provide for His own needs. Here Is a of 

exchange. Likewise, the apostolic soul seems to be 
neglecting tilings that are closer at hand more Immedi- 
ate ; but it does so because It sees everything from the point 
of view of the true Interests of the kingdom of God, It 
sees life from God's point of view and not from its own. 
God wants souls that are self-forgetful enough to be able 
to take His interests to heart. These interests comprise 
the salvation of the great pagan lands , the salvation of 
Islam, the salvation of the Jews, and the salvation of the 
countries that have turned away from Christ. 

There Is a final aspect of this total devotion of Christ 
to the glory of His Father: namely, that He subordinates 
everything to it, even to the point of completely despising 
His own glory in the measure that the Father requires It of 
Him. Men seek their own glory and disregard the glory of 
God. Someone was needed who would take the opposite 
approach, and who would seek the glory of God at the 
expense of his own glory, even to the extremes of self- 
contempt. Now, that Is what Christ's Passion Is. Christ 
was treated like a criminal. Why? In order to make 
reparation for all our sins of pride, but also to show us 
to what point it was necessary to be devoted to the glory 
of the Father and to scorn one's own glory. 

An authentic apostolic vocation will necessarily Involve 
some humiliation, otherwise It would not be a true follow- 
ing of Christ. The selflessness of the apostle must make 
him capable of subordinating his own Interests and his own 
glory to the glory of the Father. And, as the Gospel tells 
us, to him who has been a good servant and sought the 
glory of the Father, the Father in His turn will give His 
glory, He will look upon him with immense love: "This 
is my beloved son. ' 5 Indeed, the only reward we must hope 
for is that the Father be pleased. After all, we seek 


nothing but that, and If He is pleased, that is, if we have 
been able to do our small part in bringing a few souls to 
Him, then our desires have been overwhelmingly fulfilled. 

Thus, the apostolate appears to us as a testimony of 
generous love, freely given. In the Gospel nothing is 
forced. From beginning to end, the Gospel is a call to 
liberality; It is the manual of free men, of free and liberal 
creatures. In it, everything Is ruled by love* Now, this 
is particularly applicable to the missionary vocation. That 
is why it is so imperious, for it is much more difficult to 
elude love than to escape from necessity. We can con- 
stantly elude love because we are frail creatures and because 
we spend our time belying by our acts what we truly believe, 
but in one sense we cannot elude it, in that we cannot 
escape that inner exigency of our nature, present in us 
of necessity and not to be denied unless we would betray 
all that we consider worthy of being loved and desired.